Murphy to Lead Physics Research Institute

Associate Professor Thomas E. Murphy, will become interim director of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP) effective February 1, 2012. Professor Daniel P. Lathrop, will step down as IREAP director to become associate dean of research for the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (CMNS).

IREAP applies basic science skills to practical problems and engineering skills to fundamental scientific investigations. The institute is recognized internationally in high-temperature plasma physics, plasma spectroscopy, relativistic microwave electronics, high-brightness charged particle beams, laser-plasma interactions, nonlinear dynamics (chaos), ion beam microfabrication techniques, microwave sintering of advanced materials, nanoscience and nanotechnology. IREAP is a joint institute of the A. James Clark School of Engineering and CMNS, and is one of the premier research operations on campus.
Murphy studied physics and electrical engineering at Rice University, graduating with joint B.A./B.S.E.E. degrees in 1994. That same year, he joined the NanoStructures Laboratory at MIT, where he pursued research in integrated optics and nanotechnology. He completed his M.S. degree in 1997 and his Ph.D. in 2000. In 1994, he was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship for graduate research, and in 2000 he and his colleagues received the Lemelson-MIT student team prize for innovation in telecommunications and networking. In 2000, he joined MIT Lincoln Laboratory as a staff member in the Optical Communications Technology Group. In August 2002, he joined the faculty at the University of Maryland where he now serves in the Clark School's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and IREAP. He will continue to serve in these capacities while interim IREAP director.
Murphy’s research interests include nonlinear optics, optical communications, nonlinear dynamics, microwave photonics and terahertz technology. His research broadly aims to explore new devices and techniques that improve the speed, sensitivity, resolution, and efficiency of optical communication and sensor systems. He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, a senior member of the IEEE, and a recipient of the NSF CAREER and DARPA Young Faculty awards.  He has been recognized for excellence in both teaching and research, having been awarded the Clark School Junior Faculty Outstanding Research Award and E. Robert Kent Outstanding Teaching Award for Junior Faculty.

Lathrop runs the Nonlinear Laboratory, which studies how turbulence is affected by rotation, magnetic fields and quantum effects. The lab may be best known for Dynamo, a 3-meter-tall sphere that approximates the Earth's core and is used to study the Earth's magnetic field. He joined the university in 1997 and received the Presidential Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation that same year. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He will continue to direct the Nonlinear Lab as CMNS associate dean for research.

Lathrop became IREAP director in 2005. During his tenure, IREAP was chosen to administer a $15 million fellowship program in conjunction with the National Institute for Standards and Technology. IREAP also was awarded a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (along with Duke University) from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to produce a new class of sensors and sensor systems for military operations. The following year, IREAP along with several other Clark School and CMNS units, became involved with the new Center for Applied Electromagnetics, also established with significant funding from ONR.


Published January 11, 2012