Jeremy Hanson Wins 2010 Simon Prize

Photo (left-right): Prof. Aron Pinczuk, Prof. Irving Herman, Dr. Jeremy Hanson, Dr. David Maurer, Dr. Jane Faggen, Prof. Michael Mauel, and Prof. C.K. Chu


The Robert Simon Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the APAM Department to the graduate student who has completed the most outstanding dissertation. This year, Dr. Jeremy Hanson, was the recipient of this award.

Dr. Hanson received a B.Sci. degree in Applied Mathematics, Engineering, and Physics from the Univ. of Wisconsin (Madison) in May 2004. In September 2004 he started his Ph.D. studies in the APAM Department in Applied Physics. He received his M.S. degree in May 2005 and was also recognized with the SEAS Extraordinary Teaching Assistant Award in 2005. He joined the High Beta Tokamak Research Group in the Columbia Plasma Physics Laboratory, led by Profs. G.A. Navratil, M.E. Mauel, and T.S. Pedersen, as a Graduate Research Assistant in June 2005. In his Ph.D. thesis, “A Kalman Filter for Active Feedback on Rotating External Kink Instabilities in a Tokamak Plasma,” Dr. Hanson reported for the first time the simulation and experimental optimization of a Kalman filter active feedback control algorithm for n=1 tokamak external kink modes. The external kink is one of the key instabilities that limit the performance of future fusion energy tokamak systems, and active feedback control of this instability will be essential. The feedback control algorithms employed need to distinguish the unstable kink modefrom noise due to other magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) activity. The Kalman filter contains an internal model that captures the dynamics of a rotating, growing n=1 kink mode. This model is actively compared with real-time measurements to produce an optimal estimate for the mode’s amplitude and phase. The feedback system with the Kalman filter is able to suppress the kink mode over a broad range of phase angles between the sensed mode and applied control field.

While at Columbia, Dr. Hanson published two journal papers as the first author in Physics of Plasmas (2008 & 2009), one as first author in Review of Scientific Instruments (2009), and one as a contributor in Nuclear Fusion (2008). He also presented an Invited Paper at the 2008 American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics Annual Meeting. Dr. Hanson was selected in a U.S. Department of Energy national competition as a Fusion Energy Science Postdoctoral Fellow for the period of 2009-2011.


History of the Robert Simon Memorial Prize

The Robert Simon Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics to the graduate student who has completed the most outstanding dissertation. Should no graduate student’s dissertation qualify in any given year, the prize may be awarded to either the most outstanding student who has completed a master of science degree in the Department or to the most outstanding graduating senior in the Department. The Department chair in consultation with the Department faculty selects the awardee.

Robert Simon (December 25, 1919–February 11, 2001) received a B.A. degree cum laude in classics from the City College of New York in 1941, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in mathematics from Columbia University in 1949. Between 1941 and 1944, Mr. Simon was a lieutenant in the United States Armed Forces serving in England, France, and Italy. He participated in the D-Day operation as a navigator for a plane that dropped paratroopers in the vicinity of Omaha Beach. General Dwight Eisenhower personally shook his hand and wished him well the night before the D-Day assault.

Mr. Simon, who was born and lived in New York City, spent a lifetime making valuable contributions to the field of computer science. Starting in 1953, he worked for 15 years at Sperry's Univac Division in various capacities including marketing, planning, systems engineering, systems programming, and information services. He also spent a year working at the Fairchild Engine Division as director of the Engineering Computer Group. He personally directed the establishment of several company computer centers at sites throughout the United States. Between 1969 and 1973, he was a partner with American Science Associates, a venture capital firm. Mr. Simon was a founder and vice president of Intech Capital Corporation and served on its board from 1972 to 1981 and a founder and member of the board of Leasing Technologies International, Inc. from 1983 until his retirement in 1995.

The prize was established in 2001 by Dr. Jane Faggen with additional support from friends and relatives of Mr. Simon.


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