BYU physics professor named fellow by National Science Foundation

Gus Hart, a professor of physics in Brigham Young University’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, was recently named an American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellow by the National Science Foundation.

The award will help fund Hart’s research efforts, providing $600,000 over a five-year span. Hart received the award primarily for his international research collaborations and his work with student assistants from underrepresented gender and ethnic groups.

The fellowship expanded upon and extended an NSF grant of $300,000 over three years that Hart had received previously.

Hart will use the funding to continue his research of how atoms organize in materials, particularly metallic alloys. His research team will focus on developing lightweight magnesium alloys that could potentially be used in automobiles. Such a material would make cars lighter and, therefore, more fuel-efficient.

Hart also plans to research ways to improve the performance of platinum and palladium. These metals are most often used in the catalytic convertors of automobiles, which reduce the toxicity of engine emissions and account for over roughly 40 percent of the world’s platinum and palladium usage. However, both elements are also frequently fashioned into jewelry, which Hart says his research would make tougher and more durable.

Hart’s research team at BYU works in collaboration with three other groups around the globe. Using the university’s supercomputer, Hart and his team develop “virtual experimental” models of various alloys, which are then physically created by a partner lab in South Africa.

“We use the supercomputer to create simulations of different alloys,” Hart said. “[Our collaborators] are the ones who actually make and test them after we send them the models. We have to work together.”

The ACI Fellowship is awarded based on recommendations from NSF’s Division of Materials Research. Recipients receive a monetary supplement to current grants and have those grants extended for two additional years for “special creativity,” according to the NSF.

Writer: Steve Pierce


News and Events

Image for Mystery of Haumea's Formation Solved
BYU Physics and Astronomy student Benjamin Proudfoot recently published research in the prestigious journal Nature Communications that solves the mystery of the icy dwarf planet Haumea's formation.
Image for Capturing Images at the New Mexico Observatory
Students and faculty from theBYU Astronomy and Physics department captured images from space at an observatory in New Mexico to research explaining the evolution of the universe.
Image for Sabbatical at Cambridge for Dr. Gus Hart
Dr. Hart's sabbatical propels work on new techniques for constructing interatomic potentials
Image for Dr. Steve Turley -NSF Program Officer
Dr. Turley influences the future of physics education during his time as program officer for education division of the National Science Foundation
Image for Planetarium Updates
A new and improved planetarium experience
Image for How Physics Students Thrive in a Pandemic
Ways Students have Adapted to the Pandemic
Image for New Professor Dr. Benjamin Boizelle
Dr. Boizelle brings radio astronomy to the department
Image for Dr. Dennis Della Corte launches Consortium of Molecular Design
Dr. Della Corte's computational biophysics is the heart of the new Consortium of Molecular Design
Image for Dr. Scott Sommerfeldt Awarded an ASA Silver Medal
Dr. Scott Sommerfeldt awarded the Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America for work in active noise control