In March 2008, NSCL alumna Barbara Jacak was named a SUNY Stonybrook Distinguished Professor, an honor conferred to SUNY faculty achieving distinct national or international prominence and a distinguished reputation within a specific discipline. Jacak is a nuclear physicist who uses heavy ion collisions for fundamental studies of hot, dense nuclear matter. She is a leading member of the collaboration that built and operates the PHENIX detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Jacak was involved in the discovery of the quark gluon plasma and its strongly coupled, liquid-like behavior, named the top physics story of 2005 by the American Institute of Physics. In an interview with NSCL's communication team, Jacak reflects on the signficance of the award and her excitement about her current research.