IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award Goes to a Plasma Pioneer

Chandrashekhar Joshi was recognized for his particle-accelerator work

6 February 2017

It’s an honor to receive any one of IEEE’s highest awards, but for a physicist, garnering an award named for Marie Sklodowska-Curie is especially notable. IEEE Fellow Chandrashekhar Joshi [above] will receive the IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award this year “for groundbreaking contributions to and leadership in the field of plasma particle accelerators.”

The annual award was established in 2008 to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of nuclear and plasma sciences and engineering. It comes with a US $10,000 cash prize, a bronze medal, and a certificate.


A professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, Joshi is working to overcome the challenges of building smaller and less expensive high-energy particle accelerators.

He has demonstrated that charged particles can be accelerated thousands of times more rapidly using plasma, compared with traditional radio-frequency technology. To reduce the massive size of current machines, he uses powerful laser pulses composed of bunches of charged particles to create charged-density waves in an ionized gas. The results achieved by his plasma accelerator group have helped several experimental facilities in the United States building teravolt-scale plasma-based particle colliders needed at the frontier of particle physics, while reducing their cost.


The Curie Award was established nearly a decade ago by the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society as well as the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation and IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology societies.

Life Fellow Peter Winokur, one of the award’s founders, says the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society in particular felt that IEEE did not have a technical field award that recognized pioneering contributions in the fields of nuclear and plasma sciences.

Since the award was established, it has honored people involved with groundbreaking technologies including in-vivo molecular imaging systems, radiation detection systems, and microwave tubes.

The award celebrates Curie’s seminal contributions to physics and chemistry. Born in Warsaw in 1867, she went on to conduct pioneering research in radioactivity. She received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for discovering the radioactive elements polonium and radium. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, and she is still the only woman to win twice. She founded the Curie Institutes, in Paris and Warsaw, which remain two of the world’s leading medicine and biology research centers. And during World War II, she led the effort to build and operate a fleet of mobile X-ray units, helping to save the lives of countless soldiers in the process.

Read about other innovators who received IEEE medals, recognitions, and technical field awards this year, and find out how to nominate a colleague for one of IEEE’s top honors.

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