Graduate Awards

Graduate Awards


Bonner Book Awards (Undergraduate and Graduate Awards)

Tom Bonner was the second chair of the Rice physics department, serving from 1947 until his sudden death in 1961. The Bonner Nuclear Laboratories are named after him. He was a nuclear physicist of international renown. The American Physical Society awards the prestigious Bonner Prize in nuclear physics each year in his honor. Here at Rice we honor his memory through the Bonner Book Prizes, given each year to the most outstanding sophomore, junior, senior, and first year graduate students in physics. This award is made possible by the generous gift of Tom Bonner's daughter, Dr. Susan Bonner-Weir. The award monies are used for the purchase of books by the recipient(s). The 2022 - 2023 Bonner Book Award recipients are Sophomore - Wisha Wanichwecharungruang and Emma Codianne, Junior - Ares Lu and Kexin Shen, Senior - Mingjian Zhu, and first-year Graduate students - Jonathan Stepp.

Past Bonner Book Award Recipients

Chuoke Award (Graduate Award)

Robert Chuoke recieved his doctorate from Rice in 1953 under the direction of William Houston. He had a distinguished career at Shell Development Company, where he was highly regarded for his broad knowledge of physics, and for his special talent in teaching. His early death was a great loss to his family and friends. To honor his memory, this award was established in 1980 to recognize the second and third year graduate students who show the greatest promise in physics as evidenced by performance in course work and speedy progress in research. The 2022 - 2023 Chuoke Award recipients are second-year Graduate Student - Brandon Cage and Karthik Rao, third-year student Graduate Student - JiaZhao Lin.

Past Chuoke Award Recipients

William and Elva Gordon Fellowship (Graduate Award)

Bill Gordon was a much-respected long-time member of the Space Physics and Astronomy Department who first came to Rice in 1966 as dual Dean of Natural Sciences and Engineering. He retired twenty years later as Provost and Vice President. He made many contributions to science and engineering and was a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. This, and his great service to Rice, is recognized by the fact that he is one of only two Emeritus Professors to hold the title of Distinguished. The award monies are given to the student(s) who demonstrated academic and research achievement in Space Physics or Astronomy. The 2022- 2023 William and Elva Gordon Fellowship recipients are Kun Hu (Astronomy/Astrophysics) and Andrew Marshall (Space Physics).

Past William and Elva Gordon Fellowship Recipients

William F. Marlar Scholarship (Graduate Award)

William F. Marlar was a businessman in Denver, Colorado, who was tragically disabled as a result of a robbery. His wife, Freda Marlar, assumed the management of the business, which prospered under her direction. She was a staunch American patriot and believer in the free enterprise system. At the time the Soviets launched Sputnick in 1957, she felt that American ingenuity and technical knowledge should be stimulated from the private sector in an effort to equal and eventually surpass the Soviet space accomplishments. To aid in this purpose she established the William F. Marlar Memorial Foundation, which has continued to promote her initial purposes, through university grants, since her death in 1968. As of 2018, the Marlar Award has been included in the William and Elva Gordon Fellowship designation.

Past William F. Marlar Scholarship Recipients

Umland Award (Graduate Award)

The Eric Umland award recognizes the graduate student(s) who has contributed most to the quality of graduate student life in the physics department. The award is presented in memory of Eric Umland who received his Ph.D. from this department in 1983. Eric was a student very much concerned with the quality of life in our department as well as being an outstanding young physicist. He left Rice for a prestigious fellowship at Cal Tech. He died tragically soon after arriving there in a plane crash. His family and friends have endowed this award in his memory.

Past Umland Award Recipients

Henry F. and Margaret Dunlap Fellowship (Graduate Award)

Henry Dunlap received his BS, MS and his PhD in nuclear physics from Rice Institute. Upon graduation, he became a research associate for the Naval Ordinance Laboratory and developed the radio proximity fuse that helped win World War II. Following the war, he was hired by Arco to head their research laboratory and became a consultant to the World Bank advising client governments how to improve their educational systems. The Dunlap Fellowship was established by Dr. Dunlap and his wife to encourage the advancement of physics at Rice University and is awarded to upper-level graduate students showing exceptional performance in research. This award is given to students who have achieved PhD candidacy and are within approximately one, or two years of their PhD defense.  The 2022 - 2023 Henry F. and Margaret Dunlap Fellowship recipients are Diego Fallas-Padilla and Lei Chen.

Past Henry F. and Margaret Dunlap Fellowship Recipients

Wilson Award (Graduate Award)

H. A. Wilson, hired by Edgar Lovett to come to Rice to be the first chair of the physics department. He arrived in 1912 to find a sea of mud with a few buildings under construction. He remained and served the university with distinction for 40 years. This award recognizes the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis in the department each year. The 2022 - 2023 Wilson Award recipients is Zhiyuan Wang.

Past Wilson Award Recipients 

Kevin E. Strecker Award (Graduate Award)  

The Kevin Strecker Award recognizes the most outstanding Master's thesis or Research Report/Proposal in the department of Physics and Astronomy each year.  It is intended to provide encouragement and recognition to an outstanding student who is near the half-way point toward the PhD. degree. Preference is given to students who have achieved PhD candidacy in the current academic year.  It is named in honor of Kevin Strecker, who earned his Ph.D. in 2004 for his work on tunable interactions in quantum degenerate lithium.  Kevin, who was a gifted experimentalist, pioneered the Feshbach resonance in lithium to create novel states of matter including matter wave solitons of attractively interacting Bose-Einstein condensates and strongly interacting Fermi gases.  Following Rice, he joined the Sandia National Laboratories in California where he had a short, but remarkable career.  Sadly, Kevin died suddenly and unexpectedly at at 38.  Kevin's family and friends have endowed this award in his memory.  Information on donating to this award fund can be found here.  The 2022 - 2023 Kevin E. Strecker award recipient are Yi Xu and Yucheng Guo.

Past Kevin E. Strecker Award Recipients