Francis Halzen awarded the 2019 Yodh Prize

Francis Halzen, PI of the IceCube Collaboration, received the 2019 Yodh Prize at the 36th International Cosmic Ray Conference. Credit: Madeleine O’Keefe

The Commission on Astroparticle Physics (C4) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) has awarded the 2019 Yodh Prize to Francis Halzen, PI of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. The Yodh Prize, endowed to the University of California, Irvine Foundation in 1998 by Gaurang and Kanwal Yodh, recognizes a scientist whose research career has had a major impact on the understanding of cosmic rays.

The recipient is selected by an international committee of distinguished scientists in the field of cosmic ray and astroparticle physics. The award is presented every two years at the International Cosmic Ray Conference.

Halzen was selected for his “leadership and landmark contributions that cleared a path for the emergence of neutrino astronomy.” C4 commission chair Sunil Gupta and Jaya Yodh, daughter of Gaurang Yodh, presented Halzen with the award during the opening session of the 36th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC), on July 25, 2019, in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

This year’s Yodh Prize presentation was especially poignant because of Gaurang Yodh’s recent death. Yodh passed away peacefully at his home in Irvine, California, on June 3, 2019. Just a few weeks before, Yodh had posed for a photo portrait by artist and UW–Madison professor Faisal Abdu’Allah. The portrait was part of an exhibit exploring the intersection of art and science that was on display at a gallery at UW–Madison before and during ICRC.

Preceding the presentation of the Yodh Prize, Steve Barwick, professor of physics at UC Irvine and colleague of the late Dr. Yodh, gave a speech in remembrance of Yodh’s physics career and legacy. “Our community lost a giant,” he said of Yodh. “He was an inspiring colleague of mine and for anyone who knew him, and he will be missed.”

While a professor at UC Irvine, Yodh had worked with Halzen and Barwick to help kick-start AMANDA, which eventually led to IceCube.

Barwick then gave the honors for the Yodh Prize, in which he credited Halzen for introducing him to the field of neutrino astronomy. “Without his vision, creativity, and force of will, IceCube would not exist,” said Barwick.

Upon receiving the award, Halzen expressed his thanks to his colleagues. “IceCube,” he said, “this is for you.”