Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research
Research Medal Award Winner
High energy physics
Stephen Olsen has been in the forefront of research in high energy physics involving electron-positron collisions for more than 20 years. He led teams at KEK, the National Laboratory for High Energy Physics in Japan. He excels not only as a researcher, but also as a project leader and administrative coordinator.
Olsen’s research concerns the study of matter-antimatter asymmetries in nature, one of the major areas of inquiry in particle physics. The goal is to understand how the current, matter-dominated universe could have evolved from the Big-Bang.
Olsen and his colleagues realized that accelerator and detection technology had advanced to where sufficient numbers of particles containing beauty quarks could be produced to do definitive experiments. They convinced KEK to build an appropriate accelerator. At the same time, Olsen convinced research groups to collaborate on the construction of a detector called the Belle experiment. Olsen was than elected co-leader of the Belle collaboration, a position he’s held ever since.
In 1999 Olsen spent a sabbatical year at KEK helping commission the new accelerator and detector. The central issue was to develop date processing algorithms to isolate events of interest with sufficient purity and high efficiency. Olsen developed novel techniques vital to the success of the experiment. He participated in the synthesis of the results and wrote the journal article that described the work.
During summer 2001 the Belle group made the first observation of matter-antimatter asymmetries among particles containing beauty quarks. It was the first observation after nearly 40 years of searches. The Belle collaboration involved 250 researchers from 10 countries. The group selected Olsen to present the results at an international symposium in Rome.
Olsen’s published papers and their impact on the field of high energy physics are integral to attracting more than $2 million per year from the U.S. Department of Energy to the UH High Energy Physics Group. His leadership can be credited for much of the group’s collective success.
The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research is awarded by the Board of Regents in recognition of scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community. The board also awards the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching.
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