Dan Akerib, chair of the Case Western Reserve University department of physics, has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in honor of his work in the area of astrophysics.
He also will speak at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on Monday, Feb. 16.
Specifically, the astrophysicist was lauded for "significant contributions to direct dark matter detection experiments, in particular for his work on the CDMS experiment."
The APS recognize less than one-half of one percent of the society's current members each year by electing them fellows for their "advances in knowledge through original research and publication" or "significant and innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology."
"It's a nice professional milestone to have reached; It's definitely an honor," Akerib said. "It's recognition from your peer group that you've made a substantial contribution to the field of physics and that's very special."
Akerib leads the Case Western Reserve research team that is part of the 14-institution Cryogenic Dark Matter Search which aims to identify the dark matter component that makes up a vast majority of the mass in the universe by searching for WIMPs, weakly-interacting massive particles.
The National Science Foundation and Department of Energy- supported CDMS experiment utilizes low temperature germanium detectors which are sensitive to dark matter. The effort is widely seen as being one of the world leaders in the race to discover WIMPs.
He is also teaming with colleague Thomas Shutt, the Agnar Pytte Associate Professor of Physics, on the LUX xenon project which will use an advanced liquid xenon detector to search for WIMPs on a large-scale basis with 50 times the sensitivity of the CDMS detector.
Scientists believe discovering WIMPs, and eventually identifying dark matter, can answer questions about the early formation of the universe.
Akerib, recipient of the 2007 J. Bruce Jackson, M.D., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring, is the 12th fellowship honoree from the Case Western Reserve physics faculty since 1995.
At the AAAS meeting, Akerib will be part of a panel of researchers discussing "Origins and Endings: From the Beginning to the End of the Universe." The panel was organized by former department chair Lawrence Krauss.
In his comments Akerib will review current and newly planned research in "The Search for Dark Matter."
Other members of the panel include Alan Guth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; John Carlstrom, University of Chicago; Scott Dodelson, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; and Lawrence Krauss, Arizona State University.
Additional information on the AAAS Annual Meeting can be found at www.eurekalert.org/aaasnewsroom.