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NEWS | March 10, 2015

Dr. Arati Dasgupta Awarded Fellowship to Washington Academy of Sciences

By Donna McKinney

Dr. Arati Dasgupta from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Radiation Hydrodynamics Branch of the Plasma Physics Division was recently awarded fellowship to the Washington Academy of Sciences. She is recognized for outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of plasma physics.

In order to recognize scientific work of merit and distinction, the Washington Academy of Sciences awards fellowships annually to scientists who work in the greater Washington D.C. area. To become a fellow, a person must be nominated by two Fellows of the Academy, one of whom must be familiar with the applicant's work. Election to fellowship is by vote of the Board of Managers upon recommendation of the Committee on Membership. Dr. Dasgupta was sponsored by Dr. Katherine Gebbie, director of Physics Laboratory at the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and was co-sponsored by Dr. Charles Clark, chief of Electron and Optical Division at NIST and Program manager of Atomic and Molecular Physics at the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Dr. Dasgupta has made outstanding and enabling contributions in a very broad spectrum of activities in the areas of basic and applied atomic physics. Since arriving at NRL, Dr. Dasgupta's research has lead to improved understanding of the important atomic processes relevant to Z-pinch plasma radiation sources, which are laboratory sources of intense x-rays. Her most important contributions in this investigation are detailed calculations of the ionization structure and the radiation generated in the Z facility at the Sandia National Laboratories. Dr. Dasgupta's essential contribution to the success of this radiation-source development program has been widely recognized.

Dr. Dasgupta is widely known for highly accurate calculations of the Dielectronic Recombination (DR) process. This is the dominant recombination mechanism for the determination of the ionization-recombination balance for non-hydrogenic ions in the important temperature region of laboratory and astrophysical plasmas. Using a state-of-the-art detailed investigation of this complex electron-ion recombination process, which involves a multitude of competing autoionization and radiative-decay channels, she has made significant contributions to the understanding of the plasma radiation generated in Z-pinch devices and the x-ray laser gain for neon-like ions. She is internationally recognized for her important contributions to the precise description of this intricate atomic process, together with applications to the improved understanding of atomic interactions in plasmas. She has also used this expertise in analyzing spectra from astrophysical phenomena such as shock waves, stellar winds, and accretions of iron rich knots in Super Novae Remnants.

Dr. Dasgupta has made important contributions to the description of the interaction of intense, ultra-short-pulse laser radiation with clusters (a unique combination of gas and solid phase with small, multi-atom particles between 10 and 3x106) of noble gas atoms, particularly Xe. The collisional and radiative atomic data set that she has provided is instrumental in understanding the mechanism of laser interaction with these clusters. As a result of this modeling effort, fundamental insights have emerged regarding the conversion of the incident laser radiation into x-ray radiation, together with the production of exotic double-vacancy states of the atoms.

Dr. Dasgupta's highly accurate and extremely challenging atomic structure and collision calculations of rare gases and other complex atoms are of critical importance for a wide-range of applications. Her benchmark calculations used to model unique electron beam pumped KrF and Ar-Xe gas lasers developed at NRL were instrumental for providing understanding of their inversion dynamics, gain and efficiency.

Dr. Dasgupta received her bachelor's degree with honors in physics, master's degree and doctorate in atomic physics, all from the University of Maryland. She came to NRL in 1986 and has become a sought after expert in several areas of theoretical atomic and plasma physics of international importance. Her awards and professional honors include induction to the Sigma Xi Sigma honors society, and an award for excellence in physics from the Women's Society of the University of Maryland. She was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2010.

Dr. Dasgupta has presented numerous invited talks and colloquia and organized and chaired many invited symposia world-wide. She has served on many committees and review panels. Recently, the Director of Office of Science of the Department of Energy, Dr. Patricia Dehmer, appointed Dasgupta to serve as a member of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) for the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program for a three-year term (2014-2017). The Committee provides advice and recommendations on scientific, technical, and programmatic issues relating to the FES program. As a committee member, Dr. Dasgupta will provide advice to the Department of Energy on the National Fusion Energy Sciences Program, specifically in her areas expertise — basic plasma science and high energy density plasma physics.

Additionally, Dr. Dasgupta was appointed to serve on the FESAC Strategic Planning Panel to assess the priorities among continuing and potential new FES program investments. She contributed to a report on prioritizing program elements defined by FES, including views on new facilities, new research initiatives, and facility closures. She is a reviewer of DOE's awards nominations, and a reviewer of DOE and NSF/DOE Joint Partnership in High Energy Density Science and Laser Plasma Interactions proposals.

Dr. Dasgupta currently chairs the Committee of Women in Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Plasma Physics. She has served on the APS Division of atomic and molecular physics (DAMOP) program and education committees. She also served on the Atomic Physics panel of DOE's HEDP basic research needs international workshop to participate in writing a report on the status and future goals of HED physics. She serves on NASA's Solar and Heliospheric proposals review panels, reviews prestigious scientific journals, and has organized Indo-US Science and Technology Bilateral workshops. She is active in a number of professional and educational outreach efforts at NRL and in the physics community. She was invited to write a book chapter titled Blazing the Trail; Essays by Leading Women in Science in 2013 to encourage young women to pursue science careers.

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