This Valentine’s Day, Michigan State University showed a little bit of love to one of NSCL’s own. On Tuesday, February 14, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon congratulated 10 new Distinguished Faculty Award winners, who were chosen for a comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative actives, instruction and outreach.
Among those honored was Bill Lynch, who has been a part of NSCL for a while, joining the faculty in 1984.
In that time, Lynch has worked on a variety of problems in experimental and theoretical nuclear physics as well as on the construction of major instrumentation required for nuclear physics research. He is on his seventh major device, all of which he says have had their own difficulties and challenges that needed to be overcome. Lynch has taught a wide variety of classes, and including teaching introductory courses for non-science majors.
“It’s challenging sometimes to get them to put in the effort, especially since most of them are not taking the course by choice and don’t see a direct relationship between the material and what they’ll do later on in life,” said Lynch. “But I just try to always remember what Ed Kashy told me when he said, ‘The most important thing is to keep the students awake. They don't learn when they’re asleep.’”
Lynch also has supervised 15 Ph.D. students, mentored 17 undergraduates in the Research Experience for Undergraduate students program, and worked with more than 30 MSU undergraduate students in their research projects.
Specializing in heavy ion reactions, Lynch's renown for experimental and theoretical research in nuclear physics is evidenced in more than 250 peer-reviewed publications that have earned more than 9,500 citations. His main research accomplishments are the use of intensity interferometry to probe the space-time evolution of heavy ion reactions, the use of exited state populations and isotope ratios as nuclear thermometers, and his contribution to determining the nuclear equation of state, in particular, on constraining its isospin dependence from heavy ion reaction data. In addition to being a prolific scholar, Lynch is famous as a builder of medium- to large-scale detector systems for nuclear reaction studies, which include the MSU Miniball, the HiRA (High Resolution Array), the SAMURAI TPC and the Active Target–Time Projection Chamber.
Lynch has earned other awards, including a Presidential Young Investigator Award and Fellow designation in the American Physical Society.
“I’m very honored to receive this award,” said Lynch. “I don’t go through my day-to-day with an eye towards being awarded. My research activities or teaching challenges motivate me to do well on a daily basis. But it’s nice after some time to be recognized like this.
“Experimental physics in our field requires teams of people working together, from graduate students to postdocs to colleagues,” Lynch went on to say. “For any recognition I receive for research activities, the credit must be shared. I don’t think there would have been an award without the many outstanding people with whom I’ve worked.”