Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 7:18 pm | Partly Cloudy 55º


UCSB Physics Professor Matthew Fisher Receives 2015 Buckley Prize

Matthew Fisher, a professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, has been awarded the 2015 Oliver E. Buckley Prize for discovery and pioneering investigations of the superconductor-insulator transition, a paradigm for quantum phase transitions.

Matthew Fisher
Matthew Fisher

The Buckley Prize is given annually by the American Physical Society, comprised of leaders in the international physics community, to recognize and encourage outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics. The prize was endowed in 1952 by AT&T Bell Laboratories (now Lucent Technologies) to recognize outstanding scientific work. It is named in memory of Oliver E. Buckley, a past president of Bell Labs known for his contributions to the field of submarine telephony.

“My heartfelt congratulations to Professor Matthew Fisher for receiving the Buckley Prize,” said Pierre Wiltzius, the Susan and Bruce Worster Dean of Science and professor of physics. “The list of previous awardees includes an illustrious group of giants in the field of condensed matter physics. We are very proud of Professor Fisher’s accomplishments.”

Fisher’s research has focused broadly on theories of strongly interacting systems of quantum particles, for example electrons moving in a solid. Some materials can exhibit multiple quantum behaviors when experimental knobs are tuned, such as a when a superconductor becomes insulating due to the application of a strong magnetic field. The superconductor-insulator quantum phase transition cited in Fisher’s award serves as a paradigm for such phenomena, which can reveal the strange and secret workings of quantum mechanics.

“Science is a collective endeavor,” said Fisher. “It felt really nice to win the Buckley Prize particularly because it tells me I have supporters in the physics community who appreciate what I’ve done but appreciate me as well. Former recipients of this prize are people I know and respect, including people here at UCSB in the physics department.”

Fisher obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from Cornell University in 1981 and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1986. He was a visiting scientist and then research staff member at IBM T. J. Watson Research Center from 1986 to 1993, before joining UCSB’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1993. In 2007, Fisher joined Microsoft’s Station Q as a research physicist and was on the Caltech faculty from 2009 to 2010. Since 2010, he has been a professor in UCSB’s Department of Physics.

“The Oliver Buckley Award is the most prestigious award there is for condensed matter physics,” said Philip Pincus, chair of UCSB’s Department of Physics. “At UCSB, we have a long history as an important player in condensed matter physics both theoretically and experimentally. This award acknowledges the importance of the work that Matthew has done on the superconducting-insulating transition and the environment at UCSB that has made this possible.”

Fisher’s other honors include the Alan T. Waterman Award bestowed by the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

Fisher shares the prize with three other physicists: Aharon Kapitulnik of Stanford University, Allen Goldman of the University of Minnesota and Arthur Hebard of the University of Florida. The four will split the $20,000 prize.

A total of 95 other scientists have received the Buckley Prize to date and 13 of them have gone on to win a Nobel Prize. UCSB recipients include Nobel laureate Walter Kohn (prize winner in 1961), professor emeritus of physics; Nobel laureate Alan Heeger (1983), professor of physics and of materials; Arthur Gossard (1984), professor emeritus of materials; James Langer (1997), research professor of physics; and David Awschalom (2005), a former professor in the Department of Physics.

— Julie Cohen represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >