Paul Cassak, associate professor of Physics and Astronomy in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences has been named West Virginia University’s 2017-2018 Benedum Distinguished Scholar in Physical Sciences and Technology. This designation is intended to recognize and reward WVU faculty who exemplify distinction in research, scholarship or creative activity.
Cassak is a theoretical and computational plasma physicist specializing in space physics and magnetically confined fusion. His research explores a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection, which drives solar flares in the sun’s atmosphere and leads to auroral light displays and space weather at Earth. He serves on numerous science community committees and does elementary school outreach throughout West Virginia in partnership with Morgantown’s Spark! Imagination and Science Center. Cassak has also made appearances on NASA TV.
“Dr. Cassak demonstrates the scope and caliber of research that we seek to recognize in our Benedum Distinguished Scholars,” said Associate Provost for Academic Personnel C. B. Wilson, whose office administers the award. “We are also excited to see the connections he has clearly made between his extraordinary research, his teaching and his service to our community.”
Cassak has been recognized locally and nationally. At WVU, he has received Eberly College awards in Research (2012), Teaching (2014) and Public Service (2017), as well as the Honors College Nath Outstanding Teacher Award. Cassak is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has received their Scarf Award for outstanding dissertation work. He has also been recognized with a National Science Foundation Career Award and the prestigious Macelwane Medal for early career scientists.
As a Benedum Distinguished Scholar, Cassak will be recognized by President Gordon Gee and Provost Joyce McConnell at the faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House this April. He will also receive $5000 in professional development support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and will deliver a public lecture on campus in fall 2017. Further information on this lecture will be forthcoming from the Provost’s Office closer to the date.
Funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Distinguished Scholar awards are presented each spring to WVU faculty in up to four categories: behavioral and social sciences, biosciences and health sciences, humanities and the arts and physical sciences and technology.