Jaroslav Trnka, associate professor of physics, has won the 2020 Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics from the American Physical Society (APS). Trnka is a member of the Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP), a joint center in the UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Mathematics.
The Primakoff Award recognizes outstanding contributions made by promising young physicists. The annual prize consists of $3,000 and travel to an APS meeting to receive the award and deliver an invited lecture.
Trnka’s research focuses on new ways to represent the interactions between elementary (subatomic) particles. As a doctoral student at Princeton University, Trnka and his advisor discovered a geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions. Trnka found a way to express interactions (called scattering amplitudes) in terms of an amplituhedron, a many-dimensional polygon embedded in a geometrical space. Mathematical concepts like the amplituhedron could help researchers unify quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The award recognizes Trnka’s “seminal work on the computation of particle scattering amplitudes, including the development of a new mathematical approach, the amplituhedron.”
Trnka’s previous honors include the Young Scientist Prize in Particles and Fields from the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics and the UC Davis Award for Innovation and Creative Vision.
— Becky Oskin, content strategist in the College of Letters and Science