Robert L. McCrory Appointed University Professor and
Riccardo Betti Named Robert L. McCrory Professor

June 2014

University Medal

Medal presented to
Professor Robert L. McCrory and Professor Riccardo Betti

At an installation ceremony on 3 April, Dr. Robert L. McCrory, University Vice President and Vice Provost, and CEO and Director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), was appointed University Professor. Professor Riccardo Betti, professor of mechanical engineering and of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, was named the inaugural Robert L. McCrory Professor.

Feeling "twice honored" for his new appointment and for the establishment of a professorship in his name, McCrory reflected on the exciting developments taking place in nuclear fusion research, "The time may be near when we see a breakthrough in the quest to demonstrate the scientific feasibility of the fusion process that will eventually provide a safe, secure, and environmentally benign source of limitless energy."

One of only eight current or retired faculty members who are a University Professor, McCrory is being recognized for his contributions to the national physics and engineering community, LLE, and to the University in general.

"University Professorships are awarded for exceptional contributions to society and the University," said President Joel Seligman. "I am delighted to recognize Bob's accomplishments and extraordinary service with this professorship. As director of the LLE, he has led the largest single laboratory and research program at the University of Rochester. He has worked tirelessly in Washington, D.C. as an advocate for high-energy-density physics and the Laboratory. He has recruited outstanding colleagues and has been a visionary of international prominence for his work," Seligman added.

Under McCrory's leadership, LLE has established itself as a world-leading laboratory for the investigation of inertial confinement fusion. Since becoming the director, McCrory has secured $1.6 billion in funding for LLE. The Laboratory has consistently received outstanding reviews from the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

McCrory received his bachelor's and doctorate degrees in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He began his research in inertial fusion at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and came to the University in 1976. In addition to his position as the LLE director, which he has held since 1983, he serves as vice president and vice provost of the University. In 1984 McCrory was named associate professor of mechanical engineering and was promoted to full professor in 1986. He has also been a professor of physics since 1999.

McCrory has served on several National Academy of Sciences committees on military space policy and plasma science. At the University, he has served as a member of the University of Rochester Faculty Senate (1986–1989, 1990–1992, and 1994–1996), and as the chair of the Faculty Senate's research policy committee (1997). He served as executive director of governmental relations for the University from 1997 to 2004. His honors include election as a fellow of the American Physical Society. McCrory has been recognized with numerous awards including the Edward Teller Award given by the American Nuclear Society for his "pioneering research and leadership in the use of laser and ion-particle beams to produce unique high temperature and high-density matter for scientific research and for controlled thermonuclear fusion."

Professor McCrory has authored or co-authored more than 250 scientific journal publications. Some of his key contributions to inertial fusion include his work on the wavelength dependence of hydrodynamic efficiency on laser-driven targets and the hydrodynamic stability of inertial fusion capsules.

Riccardo Betti, the inaugural Robert L. McCrory Professor, "is an internationally recognized leader in the domain of fusion energy research," said Robert L. Clark, senior vice president for research and dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "It is very special for the University to have a scholar of his caliber be the inaugural holder of the Robert L. McCrory Professorship."

Betti joined LLE and the University faculty in 1991, and serves as the assistant director for academic affairs at LLE. Betti received his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at MIT and holds a baccalaureate/master in nuclear engineering from the University of Rome.

Betti's commitment to performing fusion research drew him to Rochester. "Fusion experiments are very expensive, and the scale of the experiments usually is outside the normal scale of a university experiment," Betti said. "So there are only very few places that have fusion experiments of this scale and that are associated with a university." Betti has found both in Rochester.

LLE includes the OMEGA Laser System (activated 1995) and the OMEGA EP Laser System (activated 2008), which scientists from around the world use in their journey to develop viable fusion energy. "Fusion has the promise of an unlimited energy source for the future," says Betti. But bringing that promise to fruition, he recognizes, is "incredibly complex."

Betti conducts research in inertial confinement fusion—with a focus on the hydrodynamic instability of inertial confinement fusion capsule implosions—and magnetic fusion energy.

In 2011, Betti received the E. O. Lawrence Award from the U.S. Department of Energy for his theoretical discoveries in the physics of inertial confinement fusion. He has also received the leadership award from the Board of Directors of the Fusion Power Associates "for the leadership he has been providing to the U.S. and world inertial fusion efforts," and the Edward Teller Medal from the American Nuclear Society for his "seminal contributions to the theory and understanding of hydrodynamic instabilities, implosion dynamics and thermonuclear ignition in inertial confinement fusion."

Betti is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the vice chair of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society, and a member of The Board on Physics and Astronomy: The National Academies. He has served as chair of the National Research Council Plasma-Science Committee and of the Theory department at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. In addition, he has been a visiting professor at MIT, the University of Texas at Austin, the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies in Paris.

"Professor Betti is an exceptionally talented scholar and I am honored with his appointment as the first scholar to occupy the Robert L. McCrory Professorship," said McCrory at the installation ceremony. McCrory also expressed his gratitude to Raymond J. Mayewski, M.D., professor of medicine and chief medical officer at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who was "instrumental in securing the funding for the McCrory Professorship from a grateful anonymous donor."