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Physics professor wins second international Humboldt Prize

Zdzislaw Musielak
Zdzislaw Musielak

UT Arlington physics professor Zdzislaw Musielak has won his second international Humboldt Prize for his research into the sun and solar-type stars.

Musielak first received the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award for Senior U.S. Scientists (Humboldt Prize) from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 1997 and has been notified that he has won again this year. The prize honors internationally renowned scientists and scholars. Musielak is being rewarded specifically for outstanding achievements in the field of astrophysics. His award resulted from his nominations by three German research institutions.

Musielak's research will be done at the Kiepenheuer Institute in Freiburg, Germany, for three months this summer.

"I'm looking forward to my visit to Germany this summer and to perform research with German scientists," Musielak said. "While at the Kiepenheuer Institute, I'll work on physical processes that are responsible for different forms of solar activity and on the stability of Earth-like planets in newly discovered extra-solar planetary systems. I'll also work with physicists at the University of Freiburg and the University of Heidelberg on the origin of mysterious dark matter in our universe."

"The Humboldt Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in science and is given only to the top physicists in the world," said Alexander Weiss, professor and Physics Department chair. "More than 20 previous winners of the Humboldt Prize have gone on to win the Noble Prize in Physics."

Added College of Science Dean Pam Jansma, "We're extremely pleased that Dr. Musielak has received such a prestigious award. It's a reflection of the high quality of his research, and it also reflects well on our Physics Department." Musielak will study the physical processes responsible for heating the atmosphere of the sun and solar-type stars to temperatures above one million degrees. The research will enable astrophysicists to know more about the internal processes on the sun and also about its influence on Earth and life here.

In recognition of his successes, Musielak also Musielak received an additional Humboldt Follow-up Research Award in 2005.

Musielak joined the UT Arlington faculty in 1999. He received his Ph.D. degree in physics from the University of Gdansk in Poland in 1980. For his dissertation and other graduate research, Musielak received two awards from the Polish Academy of Sciences. From 1980-83, he was an assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of Gdansk. He left Poland in 1982 and spent one year as a visiting scientist at the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics of the University of Heidelberg in Germany. After coming to the United States in 1983, Musielak worked as a researcher at the MIT Center for Space Research for three years, and then for three more years as a senior NRC research associate at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. From 1989-99, he was a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

His research interests include the formulation of fundamental theories of physics; the origin and nature of dark matter and dark energy; methods to derive standard and non-standard Lagrangians; wave propagation in stellar atmospheres; the stability of planetary orbits in extra-solar systems; and high-dimensional chaos.