UIC physicist honored by international science organization

2013 University Scholars, Nikos Varelas, Professor of Physics

Nikos Varelas

Nikos Varelas, professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been awarded the distinction of American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers.

Varelas was cited for distinguished contributions to the field of experimental particle physics, particularly to the study of quantum chromodynamics at high energies.

“We are very fortunate to have Nikos Varelas in our department,” said David Hofman, UIC professor and head of physics. “I am delighted to see Professor Varelas named a 2013 Fellow of the AAAS, a recognition on a national scale of his outstanding research advancing science and his incredible level of service to high energy physics.

“Professor Varelas’s outstanding research and his service to our students have already been recognized within UIC through his selection as a University Scholar and his Faculty Service Award. The AAAS honor is not only timely but well deserved,” said Hofman.

Varelas’s research in high-energy particle physics has focused on understanding the building-blocks of matter and the forces that bind them together.

Over the last two decades, his work on the D-Zero experiment at Fermilab and later on the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, has investigated the strong interaction that binds quarks together into protons and neutrons, and searched for the Higgs boson new subatomic particles.

The Compact Muon Solenoid experiment includes over 3,500 scientists, organized into groups, attacking different aspects of the experiment from building the detector to processing and analyzing the enormous amount of data. With his team at UIC, Varelas contributed to the Higgs boson discovery and established that quarks behave like fundamental entities down to the level of one thousandth of a trillionth the size of a human hair.

Varelas received his B.Sc. in physics from the University of Athens and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rochester. After three years as a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University, he joined the UIC physics faculty in 1997. He has also been a guest scientist at Fermilab.

Varelas was named a UIC University Scholar in 2013 and was awarded the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Faculty and Faculty Service Awards in 2012. Also in 2012 he was named a senior fellow of the LHC Physics Analysis Center at Fermilab. He received a UIC Teaching Recognition Program award in 2006.

AAAS has nearly 120,000 individual and institutional members and 261 affiliates, serving 10 million scientists in fields ranging from plant biology to dentistry. The AAAS Fellows tradition began in 1874.

This year 388 fellows were named for advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. New fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin Feb. 15 at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago.

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