Science Dean Named Distinguished Professor

Pierre V. Sokolsky, dean of the College of Science, was named a University of Utah Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, effective July 1, 2011.

"The rank of Distinguished Professor is reserved for selected individuals whose achievements exemplify the highest goals of scholarship as demonstrated my recognition accorded to them from peers with national and international stature, and whose record includes evidence of a high dedication to teaching as demonstrated by recognition accorded to them by students and/or colleagues," according to University Policy and Procedures 6-300.

Sokolsky is a world-renowned expert in ultrahigh-energy particle physics, including gamma rays, cosmic rays, and neutrinos. He is a member of the American Physical Society and the International Society of Optical Engineering. In 1999, he was awarded the University of Utah Distinguished Research Award and, in 2002, was named a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. He has written several textbooks and book chapters and has published more than 200 papers, including 58 research articles in peer-reviewed journals.

He earned the Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology in 2006 for his distinguished service to the State of Utah in science and technology. Research projects initiated by Sokolsky have generated more than $14 million in funding support to the State of Utah and created jobs in optics and in the construction of buildings and roads.

In 2004, Sokolsky spearheaded the U's $17 million Telescope Array project to be located just west of Delta, Utah, to study ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays in collaboration with scientists form the University of New Mexico, the University of Montana, the University of Tokyo Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and several other Japanese universities. The research site, which includes 560 particle detectors and three fluorescence detectors, covers nearly 400 square miles and will be complete in September 2007. "This new experiment will increase the sensitivity to the highest-energy cosmic rays by tenfold," says Sokolsky.

Sokolsky also launched a long-term strategy to develop a comprehensive astronomy research program at the U, and to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in astronomy. A minor in astronomy was approved by the University of Utah Board of Trustees and began fall semester 2006. A full major for undergraduates in astronomy will soon be established as well as graduate-level programs including master's and Ph.D. tracks.