NEWS | Sept. 12, 2010

Dr. Jack Davis Receives Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professional

By Amanda Bowie

Dr. Jack Davis, Senior Scientist for Radiation Physics and High Energy Density Materials in the Naval Research Laboratory's Plasma Physics Division, is the recipient of the 2009 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professional. The Presidential Rank Award recognizes Davis for his exemplary record of achievement distinguished by exceptional originality, interdisciplinary breadth, scientific excellence and programmatic relevance as a theoretical physicist with expertise in plasma spectroscopy, atomic collision theory, and radiation physics.

Each year the President recognizes and celebrates a small group of career Senior Executives and senior career employees with the Presidential Rank Award. Recipients of this prestigious award are strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

Davis, who holds the patent on a U.S. x-ray laser concept, began his career at NRL in 1973 as a research physicist and in 1986 became the head of the Radiation Hydrodynamics Branch of the Plasma Physics Division until 2002 when he became an ST. In that role he provided expertise in atomic physics, plasma spectroscopy, radiation transport, and non-LTE (nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium) physics necessary to obtain an understanding of the processes governing the behavior of non-LTE plasmas at both the local and global levels for a number of scenarios and plasma environments.

Currently, Davis performs research in the development of theoretical models and numerical simulations relevant to the behavior of laser produced plasmas, z-pinch plasmas, non-LTE radiation and opacity models. He also works to develops new theories and models applicable to problems involving fundamental processes for high intensity ultrashort pulse laser interactions with matter. Additionally, Davis performs detailed atomic scattering calculations including inner shell processes.

Significant accomplishments achieved as a result of Davis' individual research, include:
  • the development of a unique world-class simulation capability with which to model the generation of high-energy (MeV) ion beams for applications in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
  • the development in the next frontier of design for generating energetic particles with table top accelerators; a significant milestone in intense ultrashort pulse laser research
  • successful development of a dynamic laser-cluster model and simulation characterizing the production of hollow atoms leading to an x-ray laser at 2.9 angstroms (4.5 keV).
  • improving the design of pulsed power driven loads for above ground testing of nuclear weapons effects simulation (NWES) to provide greater x-ray radiation yields than had previously been attained.
  • co-designing the nested array load that increased radiation yields by over an order of magnitude for NWES.
  • advancing the theory of dielectronic recombination
  • developing a theory of dressed particle atomic physics
  • pioneering the modern era of non-LTE radiation physics
  • creating a roadmap for the production of energetic particles from intense ultrashort pulse laser matter interactions leading to compact table-top accelerators
Before joining NRL in 1973, Davis was a senior staff scientist at EG&G in the Bedford, Mass. and Albuquerque, N.M. divisions where he became the head of the Applied Sciences Department from 1968 to 1973. In that role, Davis was responsible for the administration, management and direction of the research programs that focused on the theoretical analysis and interpretation of the morphology of high altitude nuclear weapon effects and chemical releases. He and his team studied the feasibility of simulating nuclear weapons EMP effects in orbiting satellite systems and ground facilities.

Prior to his time at EG&G, Davis was a senior staff scientists at AVCO Corporation from 1958 to 1965 and 1968. He conducted research on a variety of theoretical problems in the area of electromagnetic/plasma interactions. These included the scattering, absorption and emission of radiation from both macroscopic and microscopic systems related to nonequilibrium plasmas, electromagnetic scattering theory, and molecular collision theory.

Davis has also served as an agent for the BMDO (SDO/T/IS) Ultrashort Wavelength Laser Program and the Materials Plasma Processing Program where he evaluated and selected proposals for funding as well as organized meetings and workshops. In that role he was able to participate and contribute to advancing the science of gamma lasers and in the materials for plasma processing. Davis is also a key participant in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) program aimed at developing an operational remote portable interrogation system for maritime applications. He is also a member of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Simulation.

In addition to his research, Davis shares his knowledge with students by serving as an Adjunct Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan from 2009 to present; he has given seminars on laser-matter interactions and non-LTE radiation physics. Davis was also an adjunct professor of applied physics at the University of Michigan from 1991 to 1994. In his capacity he supervised doctoral theses and presented special seminars on laser-matter interactions and non-LTE physics and radiation effects. From 1976 to 1977 Davis was as an Adjunct Professor of Physics at George Mason University.

For his exemplary scientific research, Davis has garnered many awards, including the 1999 NRL E.O. Hulbert Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement, a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, a Technology Transfer Award, and numerous NRL publication awards. He has published over 300 cutting edge scientific papers in referred professional journals and has given numerous Plenary and invited talks at professional society meetings. In addition to being a fellow of the American Physical Society, Davis has also served as the associate editor for the Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiation Transfer (1986-2001) and for the Physics of Plasmas Journal (1987-1990).

Davis received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics in 1958 and a Master's Degree in Physics in 1960 from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. After several years of industrial research, he returned to graduate school and earned a Doctorate Degree in Plasma Physics in 1967 from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, England.