Inductee Profile


DR. NICHOLAS P. SAMIOS


Dr. Samios graduated from Columbia College in 1953 with a B.A. in Physics and in 1956 joined the Faculty of the Physics Department at Columbia. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia University in 1957. He was on the Faculty of Columbia for three years, 1956-59.

In 1959, Dr. Samios joined the Physics Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He was Physics Group Leader from 1965 to 1975, and was named Chairman of Brookhaven's Physics Department, serving in that capacity from 1975 to 1981. In February 1981, he was named Deputy Director for High Energy and Nuclear Physics. He was appointed Acting Director of the Laboratory on January 1, 1982 and Director on May 3, 1982. He served in that position for 15 years, stepping down on April 30, 1997. He is presently Distinguished Senior Scientist at BNL and Director of the RIKEN BNL Research Center.

Dr. Samios' distinguished career has been devoted to high energy particle physics, and he has made many vital contributions to that field. In the early part of his career he was involved in the discovery of the S° hyperon, demonstration of parity violation in hyperon decays, determination of the p° parity and the first measurements of the decay properties of several of the unstable particles, namely L°, S- and Q°. He subsequently was the major participant in the discovery of the f meson, the X(1530) hyperon, the spin of the S(1385), all crucial components in the study of particle spectroscopy; and the discovery of the f''(1515) and h'(958), the properties of the latter in retrospect being one of the early evidences of the existence of gluons. He is particularly well known for his discovery of the Omega Minus (W-) particle and the first Charmed Baryons (Lc+, Sc++). In fact the notation for baryon charmed particles was devised and introduced by Dr. Samios. These major discoveries have played a crucial role in determining the symmetries and dynamics of the strong interactions, SU(3), asymptotic freedom and ultimately to the formulation of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), and the Standard Model. In more recent times, Dr. Samios has devoted his energy to the study of nuclei under extreme conditions of high temperature and high energy density. As such, he was responsible for the realization of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), an accelerator facility, which was designed for and indeed achieved such extreme conditions for nuclei. The discovery of such a new form of matter which turns out to have unexpected properties, being composed of strongly interacting (in contrast to weakly interacting) quarks and gluons, has opened up a completely new and exciting area of physics investigation. The addition of spin capability to this RHIC facility, through the collaboration with RIKEN, also has opened up an additional avenue of investigation, namely that of the origin of the spin of the proton.

During his tenure as Director of BNL, Dr. Samios oversaw the conceptualization, construction and operation of many forefront scientific and non-scientific facilities. Foremost among these has involved the significant enhancement of the nuclear heavy ion capability at BNL. This was accomplished by building on the existing AGS structures, with the addition of a transfer line, booster, and the RHIC collider. Research with this facility has already led to the major discoveries, and the capability and versatility of this facility portends the advent of many more exciting and fundamental scientific discoveries. Phase II of the National Synchrotron Light Source, NSLS, was implemented under Dr. Samios' guidance and for many years has produced extraordinary findings in material and life science. It has already produced one Nobel Prize and accommodated the research activities of over 2,000 yearly users. A full-scale imaging center with both a PET and NMR capability was also established under Dr. Samios' directorship, where fundamental research on brain function and addiction is being actively pursued. A large complex for waste handling, as well as a child development center for 100 youngsters were also constructed during Dr. Samios' tenure. Two other important centers were also established. One was for exploring novel accelerator designs, the Center for Accelerator Physics, with its accompanying accelerator test facility. The second involved an international collaboration with RIKEN, Japan, in forming the RIKEN BNL Research Center to explore the origin of the spin of the proton, non-perturbative QCD, and advanced lattice gauge computations.

For his work, Dr. Samios was named a winner of the 1980 E.O. Lawrence Memorial Award for leadership in the study of elementary particle physics, and that same year also received the New York Academy of Sciences Award in Physical and Mathematical Sciences. In April 1982, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his significant contributions to scientific research. In 1993, he received the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in recognition of his discovery of the Omega Minus. In 1994, he was elected into Akademia Athenon as Corresponding Member, and in 2001 Dr. Samios was the recipient of the B. Pontecorvo Prize in recognition of his contribution to particle physics especially involving neutrinos. In August of 2009, Dr. Samios was awarded the Gian Carlo Wick Gold Medal Award by the World Federation of Scientists. The citation read as follows: “In his visionary role in the successful construction of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), and his intellectual Leadership in a series of remarkable experimental discoveries which established the existence of Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP), a new phase of strongly interacting nuclear matter.”

Dr. Samios has served on many national and international committees. For many years he was a member of the U.S. Japan Committee on High Energy Physics, the US/PRC Joint Committee on High Energy Physics, the US/USSR Joint Coordinating Committee for Research on Fundamental Progress of Matter. For a shorter period he was a member of both the International Committee for Future Accelerators and the HERA Management Board. On the national scene Dr. Samios was an advisor to many acceleration facilities: Fermilab, SLAC, CEBAF, Penn-Princeton Accelerator and the National Ignition Facility at Livermore, as well as other universities and laboratories: MIT, Stanford, and Los Alamos. He has advised DOE (and its predecessor AEC) as both a member of HEPAP and for the site selection of what became Fermilab and the SSC Laboratory. Dr. Samios has been active in both the APS as a member and Chairman of the Physics Planning Committee, Chair of the Division of Particles and Fields, and for the National Research Council as a member of the Commission on Physical Sciences Mathematics and Applications and other committees. Dr. Samios is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. On a more local level he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Stony Brook Foundation, Adelphi University, and the Long Island Association. Dr. Samios was an Adjunct Professor of Physics at Columbia University for many years.