Phillip C. Stancil
Creative Research Medal 2008
Phillip C. Stancil, associate professor of physics and astronomy, is a leader in the application of atomic and molecular dynamics to astrophysics and astrochemistry. Characterized by a coupling of advanced computational and theoretical techniques, his work looks at the atomic and molecular collision processes that underlie important cosmic questions. By performing new calculations of collisions of sulfur and oxygen ions, Stancil and collaborators showed for the first time that Jovian X-ray emissions observed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory could be explained by ions from the moon Io colliding with Jupiter’s atmosphere. Other recent work from Stancil’s group uncovered significant errors in widely used calculations for molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which could have important implications for the study of interstellar clouds. His research has resulted in more than $2.4 million in grants and 84 publications—43 in just the past five years.