Brief Scientific History
Books, Workshops, Panel Reports
Previous Students and Postdocs
Present Research Group
Joint Institute for Advanced Materials
E. Ward Plummer came to LSU in 2009 as part of the Multidisciplinary Hiring Initiative in Materials Science and Engineering [PDF]. He is a professor of Physics and Astronomy and special assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Research. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lewis and Clark College in 1962 and completed his Ph.D. degree in physics at Cornell University in 1967, working with Prof. Thor Rhodin. His thesis work on atomic binding of 5-d transition-metal atoms using FIM led to him receiving the Wayne Nottingham Prize at the Annual Physical Electronics Conference of the American Physical Society in March 1968. [Photo]
Plummer accepted a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Bureau of Standards [now called The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)] in the fall of 1967 working with Russ Young, and he stayed as a staff scientist until the fall of 1973. His work included field emission and photoemission studies of surfaces. NIST selected his 1969 paper "Resonance Tunneling of Field-Emitted Electrons Through Adsorbates on Metal Surfaces," co-authored with J. W. Gadzuk and R. D. Young, for inclusion in the agency's centennial collection of its top 100 articles of the 20th century. This paper reported the first-ever single electron spectroscopy work in which electronic energy levels of atoms at the surface of a metal were observed. [Photo]
In 1973, Plummer accepted a position in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Pennsylvania where his work mainly focused on angle-resolved photoemission, momentum-resolved inelastic electron scattering and nonlinear optical response from surfaces. In March1983, he was awarded the Davisson-Germer Prize by the American Physical Society for "---the innovative application of electron spectroscopies." In 1988, he was appointed the William Smith Professor of Physics and in 1990 became the director of the NSF-funded Materials Research Laboratory (Laboratory for Research on Structure of Matter). [Photo]
In January 1993, Plummer moved to Tennessee with a joint appointment at The University of Tennessee (Distinguished Professor), Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Distinguished Scientist). His research interests shifted to the study on an atomic scale of phase transitions in reduced dimensionality and surfaces of highly correlated electron systems such as transition-metal oxides. In October 2001, he was awarded the Medard W. Welch Award by the American Vacuum Society (AVS) for his research over the last 10 years. The citation reads, "For the development of novel instrumentation, its use to illuminate new concepts in the surface physics of metals, and the mentoring of promising young scientists." [Photo] In 2000, Plummer became the Director of the Tennessee Advanced Materials Laboratory (TAML), a state-funded Center of Excellence. TAML has since evolved into the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials (JIAM), a multi-million dollar center with state and federal support that will be the center piece on the University of Tennessee Cherokee Farms research campus. Plummer was the director of JIAM until he moved to LSU. In 2006 he was named the Guangbiao Jianzuo Professor of Physics at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, and in 2007 he won the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Lewis and Clark College. In April 2006, Plummer was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors bestowed upon an American scientist. [Photo]
Plummer has served on many national and international committees both to review existing scientific programs and to identify future directions for science and technology. Recent examples include: Chair of DOE-sponsored Workshop on "Soft X-Ray Science in the Next Millennium: The Future of Photon-In/Photon-Out Experiments", Pikeville, Tennessee, March 15-18, 2000. He was the Chair of DOE-BESAC (Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee) subpanel for the evaluation of the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source (IPNS) at Argonne National Laboratory and the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) Manuel Lujan Jr. Neutron Scattering Center. He served as a member of the DOE-Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, 2001-2007. Plummer chaired the Chinese Academy of Science Expert Assessment Committee of the Institute of Physics in Beijing, Dec. 2013.
He is author of >400 refereed papers and is included in the list of the 1,000 Most Cited Physicists, a list compiled by the Institute for Scientific Information which is based on papers published between 1981 and 1997. But what Plummer is proudest of in his long and distinguished career is the mentoring of promising young scientists. To date, he has mentored ~100 students and postdoctoral fellows, and assisted many young scientists in advancing their careers. Plummer was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in October of 2014. [Photo]
In 2007 Plummer was the first faculty member to volunteer to host exceptionally talented high school students in the new “UT Precollegiate Research Scholars Program" at UTK aimed at bridging the university and the community. [Photo]. He is now involved with the “Chancellor’s Future Leaders in Research” program at LSU. [Photo]
For over a decade Plummer has been working to build a collaborative research and education with scientists in China, specifically at the Institute of Physics (IOP) in Beijing. In 2009, a “Dual Degree” program in Materials Physics between LSU and institutes and universities in China was initiated [Photo]. Plummer and professor Zhang are PI and Co-PI of a grant funded by IOP and the Chinese Academy of sciences [Photo].