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Daicar-Bata prizes in physics and astronomy
Pictured are, from left, Eva Daicar, and Zdena Daicar, Prof. Jamie Holder, Michael Metz winner of the Daicar-Bata Prize for best research paper, Prof. Edmund Nowak, Professor and Chair of Physics and Astronomy Dept., Yue Pan winner of the Daicar-Bata Prize for highest grade point average, and Taha Salavati-fard and Harsha Kannan both finalists and winners for best paper.

Daicar-Bata prizes in physics and astronomy

Photo by Doug Baker

UD doctoral students Michael Metz and Yue Pan honored

Michael Metz and Yue Pan, doctoral students in the University of Delaware Department of Physics and Astronomy have been awarded prestigious Daicar-Bata Prizes.

Each year, the department recognizes exceptional doctoral student accomplishments by awarding two Daicar-Bata Prizes -- one for the best research paper in a physics or astronomy peer reviewed journal published during the previous academic year and another for the highest grade point average in physics and astronomy courses at the end of the student's sixth semester in the program.

“The Daicar-Bata Prizes serve to recognize and support achievement excellence and to advance the physics graduate program to a higher level of academic and research performance,” said Edmund Nowak, chair and professor of physics and astronomy. Nowak added, “Each recipient receives a $2,500 prize and a certificate of recognition.”

The initial donation for the fund came from the Bata Corporation and the Daicar and Glyde families, and the remainder was raised from the alumni of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and matching funds from the University of Delaware.

The Daicar-Bata Fund was established in 1992 in honor of Otto Daicar and to commemorate his lifetime contributions throughout the world as an individual and as a senior executive at the Bata Shoe Corporation. Eva Daicar, daughter of Otto Daicar, introduced the prizes and underscored his commitment to quality.

“My father was an inspiring leader with a strong moral compass who turned visions into reality and created work atmospheres which fueled performance excellence,” she said.

Three finalists for the best research paper presented their work during a Departmental Colloquium and immediately afterwards a panel of faculty met to decide on the winner.

“Six brilliant papers were nominated this year, making the panel’s decision challenging,” said Jamie Holder, professor and acting chair of the physics and astronomy student awards committee.

The best research paper award was awarded to Michael Metz for his work, “Automatic Generation of Intermolecular Potential Energy Surfaces”, which was published in Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 12, 5895-5919 (2016).

The other two finalists, Harsha Kannan and Taha Salavati-fard, were presented with $250 prizes and a certificate for excellence in scholarship.

Kannan was cited for his work, “Thickness dependence of anomalous Nernst coefficient and longitudinal spin Seebeck effect in ferromagnetic NixFe100-x films”, and Salavati-fard for “Catalysis of the Diels-Alder Reaction of Furan and Methyl Acrylate in Lewis-Acidic Zeolites”.

The highest grade point average (GPA) award recognizing exceptional academic performance was presented by Dr. Jamie Holder to Yue Pan. He maintains a 3.964 GPA and received a $2,500 prize.

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