Dean Russell Betts Appointed Distinguished Professor

Dean Russell Betts

Dean Russell Betts

Illinois Institute of Technology has appointed Russell Betts as Distinguished Professor, the highest honor awarded to faculty, for preeminent achievement based on his scholarly work and the excellence of his teaching. Betts is dean of the College of Science and a professor of physics.

Betts earned his degrees at the University of Pennsylvania and at Oxford University. A professor of physics since 1993, he also was a senior physicist at Argonne National Laboratory. Prior to that, he served as assistant professor of physics at Yale University, where he worked in the A.W. Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory. Betts’ research interests have been wide ranging in the fields of atomic, nuclear, and high-energy physics. His work in the study of cluster structure in atomic nuclei is well known, and he is the discoverer of several important phenomena in this field. Most recently he has worked on the CMS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and has served on numerous scientific and advisory boards and committees.

He has co-authored more than 400 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and has delivered more than 50 invited conference and symposium presentations at national and international meetings. He was elected as a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), the professional organization for North American physicists, in 1994.

As dean, he has helped to recruit nearly one-third new faculty in the college, overseen growth in undergraduate and graduate enrollments, introduced new programs, and raised millions of dollars for scholarships, endowed chairs, and renovations.

Supporting comments for his nomination noted that Betts enjoys an international reputation as a scholar and educator. As one person wrote, “In addition to being an academic leader, he routinely displays leadership and distinguished scholarship in his chosen research field – atomic, nuclear, and elementary particle physics.” As spokesman of the APEX experiment, Betts spearheaded the U.S. effort to resolve one of the most tantalizing problems of atomic and nuclear physics – the “Positron Peak Problem.” A colleague on that project said, “Betts did a superb job. I was very impressed by his understanding of physics and his ability to organize the effort of many to bring about a clear result.”

A colleague who has known him for 40 years said Betts “demonstrated exceptional scientific and institutional leadership throughout that time.” The colleague highlighted the significance and breadth of Betts’ research and said Betts quickly became a recognized expert in each area. Betts is a “dedicated and extremely effective educator,” and “there is no question that he has a continuous record of distinguished, refereed scholarly publications and that he is a significant scientific force in sub-atomic physics.”

Another nominator who knew Betts at Yale said he made a great impression on him. Betts “was very professional and excelled in research, teaching, and service. Russell was an excellent lecturer: he is a confident, enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker. As he is exceptionally energetic and very much devoted to physics, he brought enthusiasm for physics into the classroom. I would say that Russell is one of those to whom IIT owes its strong reputation as a research university. Universities always have to be watchful that their most brilliant people feel appreciated, as such people are in very short supply. I very much encourage you to recognize his contributions.”