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Renowned physicist named Distinguished Faculty Scholar

Oct. 19, 2007

KALAMAZOO--An internationally known researcher will receive Western Michigan University's highest award later this month.

Dr. Arthur McGurn, WMU professor of physics, has been selected to receive the 2007 Distinguished Faculty Scholar award. He will be honored during the University's annual academic convocation Thursday, Oct. 25, in the Dalton Center Recital Hall, and he will receive a plaque, $2,000 cash award and $2,000 addition to his base salary.

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The Distinguished Faculty Scholar award is the highest honor the University bestows on its faculty members. Established in 1978, it recognizes those whose work is widely recognized beyond the University and constitutes a significant body of achievement, most of which has been accomplished while a faculty member at WMU.

McGurn joined the faculty in 1986 and conducts research in theoretical condensed matter physics. He was cited as a prolific researcher in a variety of areas who has continually broken new ground while building successful collaborations with fellow scientists around the world.

In nominating him, his colleagues noted that McGurn has done significant and often pioneering work in several areas, including disordered magnetic systems; light scattering, particularly from random surfaces; the quantum Monte Carlo computational (probability) tool; and most recently, photonics, which deals with photons and is a key area of investigation because of its many future applications for computer and communication technologies.

"Art's strengths as a theoretician are an extensive knowledge of mathematical techniques and his exceptional computational skills," one WMU faculty member wrote. "As detailed in his resume, he is very much in demand--nationally and internationally--as a speaker, collaborator, reviewer and author of review articles."

Nearly every person nominating McGurn commented on his strong grasp of mathematical technique.

"He has the ability to quickly master complex new formalisms, apply them to specific problems and in the end, produce computational results for realistic situations..." a nominator from another university wrote. "I have looked through his publication record before writing this letter, and I am impressed to see a very high level of output from the beginning of career to the present time."

"Arthur's research productivity is impressive, all the more so in view of his heavy teaching load...Equally impressive is the fact that he publishes in journals that are among the strongest in his fields of interests," one of his many research associates from around the nation wrote. "Arthur and I have collaborated on many joint papers since we began working together in 1983. In all of this work, Arthur has been a major contributor of original ideas, physical insight and detailed calculations. I look forward to many more years of working together."

Similar sentiments were echoed throughout McGurn's nomination forms.

"I know of few people in applied math and theoretical physics who have Art's skills in following all the details of a calculation through to completion. Art just revels in this--it is his profession and hobby," another researcher wrote. "Art has always been a wonderful scientific colleague, and I have always benefited from our scientific collaborations... He is a fine scientist and role model..."

McGurn has earned numerous honors during his career. In 2006 alone, he was elected a Fellow of American Physical Society, awarded Chartered Physicist Status by the Institute of Physics and invited to be a member of the Electromagnetics Academy.

He has been invited to conduct research, teach or speak at institutions as varied as the University of California, Irvine; Oxford University; the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of Spectroscopy; the Universite Pierre et Marie Currie; and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.

McGurn earned doctoral and bachelor's degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also has done graduate work at Brown University and postdoctoral work at Michigan State and Temple universities.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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