Ken Eack Joins Physics Faculty, Feb. 17, 2000


SOCORRO, N.M., Feb. 17, 2000 -- New Mexico Tech alumnus Kenneth Bryan Eack recently returned to his alma mater to take on a dual role as the newest faculty member in the research university's physics department, as well as the newest research physicist at Tech's renowned Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research.

Eack first came to New Mexico Tech as an undergraduate student in the late 1980s, earned his bachelor of science degree in physics in 1991, and now has returned to his alma mater to accept a tenure-track position as an assistant professor of physics at Tech.

"The interview process was somewhat strangely familiar," Eack notes, "especially since I knew just about everyone sitting around the interview table. . . . At least I didn't have to worry about making a good first impression with most of the people who were considering me for the position--it was already made."

Before becoming Tech's newest faculty member, Eack, who earned both his master of science and doctorate degrees in physics at the University of Oklahoma, worked as a postdoctoral research associate with Los Alamos National Laboratory's Space and Atmospheric Sciences Group.

This spring semester at New Mexico Tech, Eack is teaching an undergraduate-level course in quantum mechanics.

"I'm happy to be back," the physics professor says. "It's bound to be interesting when I go to my first faculty senate meeting and see all the people who were once my professors. Now, since I'm a Tech professor, I'll get to experience how the other side of the educational process operates."

Eack's research interests are focused on several areas of atmospheric physics, primarily centering on the production of gamma ray and X-ray emissions in thunderstorms.

In the course of his research, Eack often develops, builds, and deploys lightweight, specialized, balloon-borne instruments which detect, measure, and analyze X-rays in thunderstorms.

"In general, a lot of my work involves taking measurements in thunderstorms to better understand how thunderstorms become charged," Eack says. "I guess I'm more of an experimentalist when it comes to doing research rather than a theorist."

In addition to his duties at New Mexico Tech, Eack has maintained his association with Los Alamos National Laboratory as a guest scientist in a research project involved with close-range observations of Compact Intra-Cloud Discharges (CIDs).

Eack, a licensed private pilot, says he enjoys flying in his spare time, as well as an occasional game of racquetball.

"As a Tech undergraduate, I was an active member of Socorro Search and Rescue," he says, "and I'm also thinking of joining that volunteer group again."