Kattawar Named Distinguished Texas Scientist Of 2011

Dr. George W. Kattawar

Dr. George W. Kattawar

COLLEGE STATION, Jan. 25, 2011—Dr. George W. Kattawar, professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M University, has been selected by the Texas Academy of Science (TAS) as the Distinguished Texas Scientist of the Year for 2011, announced Cathy Early, TAS vice president and awards committee chairperson.

Each year the TAS honors a Texas scientist for contributions to both science and the state based on nominations solicited in the fall from the academy’s membership, which includes professors, leaders in state government and other people connected with science. Kattawar, an internationally renowned expert in optics and member of the world-renowned Texas A&M Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering (IQSE), was selected on the basis of “outstanding contributions to the physical sciences and education in the state of Texas.”

“An awards committee, later confirmed by the Board of Directors, chose your application from among several other outstanding scientists,” Early informed Kattawar in a congratulatory e-mail message. “Even among these great professionals, your accomplishments, dedication and service stood out.”

Kattawar, who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1968, received both his master’s of science and Ph.D. degrees from Texas A&M on a National Defense and Education Act Fellowship after earning his bachelor’s of science degree from Lamar University with highest honors. His research interests span the gamut of optics and applied physics and have resulted in significant contributions in such diverse areas as biomedical optics, radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres, cloud property studies related to global warming, invisibility cloaking, ultrashort laser propagation in water, anthrax detection and camouflage in cephalopods. In addition to being the author or co-author of nearly 200 publications in scholarly journals, he is co-inventor on three patents with two more pending.

Kattawar ranks as the second consecutive and fifth Texas A&M professor overall since 1979 to earn the TAS’s highest honor. His award will be presented at the academy’s 114th annual meeting, scheduled for March 3-5 in Austin.

“It is our understanding that this award is given to an outstanding scientist who has done the majority of their research in the state of Texas,” said Dr. Marlan O. Scully, distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and director of the IQSE, which co-nominated Kattawar along with the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “What makes Professor Kattawar almost uniquely qualified for this award is that, not only has he done all of his distinguished research in the state of Texas, but he also received all of his education in the state as well. He is a prime example of the quality of education that our great state has to offer.”

A fellow of the Optical Society of America since 1976, Kattawar has been elected to two, three-year terms on the National Research Council’s Committee on Recommendations for U.S. Army Basic Scientific Research and served as a major consultant to the U.S. Navy for several secret projects related to national defense. In 2009 he was selected to serve on the External Advisory Board of the Stevens Institute of Technology charged with assessing their engineering and science programs. In 1981 he received the Amoco Foundation Award for distinguished teaching, and in 1990 he won a Teacher/Scholar Award. He is a former associate editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans and the Journal of Transport Theory and Statistical Physics.

In addition to chairing the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy’s Graduate Admissions Committee for more than 30 years, he served as the College of Science representative on a committee chosen in 1982 by then newly appointed President Dr. Frank Vandiver to create a faculty senate at Texas A&M.

Before coming to Texas A&M, Kattawar held positions at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Esso Production Research and the University of North Texas.

“It is a great thrill to see one of our own receive such an important award,” said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science. “George’s research, teaching and service to the state and nation are well known at Texas A&M, and it is wonderful to see him recognized.”

“This award is a great credit to the College of Science as well as to Texas A&M University, given that I received both my master’s of science and Ph.D. degrees here,” Kattawar said. “It just shows how good the education we deliver to both undergraduates and graduate students is in our college and broader university.”

Incorporated in 1929, the Texas Academy of Science is affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

To learn more about Kattawar and his teaching and research, go to http://physics.tamu.edu/people/showpeople.php?name=George%20W.%20Kattawar&userid=kattawar.

For more information on the Texas Academy of Science, visit http://www.texasacademyofscience.org/.

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Contact:  Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or Dr. George W. Kattawar, (979) 845-2590


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