The list of fellows of the American Physical Society reads like a who’s who of the physics world from the 20th Century to the present day. You can add a member of the Mizzou Engineering faculty to that prestigious list.
Mark Prelas, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was elected in the most recent group of fellows of the APS. He was nominated by the Topical Group on Energy Research and Applications and was selected for outstanding and sustained contributions to the fields of nuclear energy conversion, wide band-gap photovoltaics and diamond.
“I’ve been a member since 1977 since I was a student,” Prelas said. “I’ve been a member my whole professional career. That is really a dream come true. I had an adviser in graduate school who was a fellow, and I always aspired to become one. It is a very important honor, a great honor.”
The APS has been naming fellows since 1921, and the list is dotted with several winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Landing on this particular list is an accomplishment that lasts a lifetime and beyond, etching one’s name in history as a preeminent researcher in the field.
“You become a fellow for lifetime achievements. I think any of us who come into academics and are members of societies, we strive so that our lifetime achievements will be recognized in some point in our careers,” Prelas said.
Prelas said he was happy to have his name now included alongside people who either helped mentor him or had a tremendous impact on his career. People such as his former mentor at the University of Illinois, George Miley; former Illinois Physics Professor Felix Adler; Nobel Prize winners Nicolay Basov and Hans Bethe; John Bardeen — the only person to be a two-time Nobel laureate in Physics; J. Robert Oppenheimer — head of the Manhattan Project and more.
“Basov actually wrote a letter of recommendation for me when I was a professor. I had the opportunity to meet him at meetings,” Prelas said. “Seeing his name on there and knowing he played a role in my career … that was heartwarming.
“This is really cool, because APS has this long history. You can go back and see all the physicists who have won the Nobel Prize in Physics and see some people that played a role in your career. … “That is such an exciting feeling to have my name there alongside people I worked with and people who’ve served as mentors and helped my career.”