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April 20, 1998

Professor emeritus wins physics prize

By Tim Stephens

The American Physical Society (APS) has awarded the 1998 Robert R. Wilson Prize to Matthew Sands, professor emeritus of physics. The Wilson Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in the physics of particle accelerators.

Sands was an active faculty member at UC Santa Cruz from 1969 to 1985 and continued his research activities until 1994. He lives in Santa Cruz and in recent years has worked with local K-12 schools to develop computer systems and physics lab activities for students.

Sands's research focused on phenomena critical to the design and operation of particle accelerators, the large and complex experimental facilities used to study the behavior of elementary particles. Experiments conducted in particle accelerators yield clues about the fundamental nature of matter.

The prize is being presented to Sands at the national meeting of the APS on April 20 in Columbus, Ohio, where he is giving a talk on the subject of instabilities in electron storage rings. The APS award citation reads: "For his many contributions to accelerator physics and the development of electron-positron and proton colliders and for his importance as teacher and role model for many generations of scientists."

Sands was the first to show--theoretically and experimentally--the importance of quantum effects in electron accelerators. He is also known for his work on beam instabilities, wake fields, beam-cavity interactions, and other phenomena.

Teaching has been as important a part of Sands's career as research. From 1960 to 1966, he served on the Commission on College Physics, which carried out a national program to modernize physics instruction in the colleges and universities of the United States. In 1972 he received a Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Sands received his B.A. in physics and mathematics from Clark University in 1940 and his M.A. in physics from Rice University. After earning a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1948, Sands joined the MIT faculty. In 1950 he moved to the California Institute of Technology and in 1963 became deputy director for the construction and early operation of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). In his first three years at UCSC (1969-72), Sands served as vice chancellor for science under Chancellor Dean McHenry.

After retiring from UCSC, Sands worked as a consultant for SLAC and also as a computer consultant for Bay View Elementary School in Santa Cruz. More recently he has worked with Santa Cruz High School physics teacher Patrick Curry to develop experiments for the physics lab.

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