DOE Physicists at Work - Dr. Tony Mezzacappa
DOE Physicists at Work
Profiles of representative DOE-sponsored physicists
doing research at universities and national laboratories
Compiled by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information
Dr. Tony Mezzacappa
Brother Harris provided the spark and Brother Sable provided the foundation for Tony Mezzacappa's early interest in physics. "I credit my getting involved in physics to a high school physics teacher, Brother Harris of Monsignor Farrell High School on Staten Island," says Dr. Mezzacappa, Corporate Fellow and Group Leader for Theoretical Astrophysics in the Physics Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Dr. Mezzacappa, also Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee, says that he has always been drawn toward things fundamental, toward the "big" questions.
"What is matter," asks Dr. Mezzacappa. "I remember reading parts of Hermann Weyl's book Space, Time, and Matter when I was in high school and being fascinated by the discussions of matter and fields, the nature and origins of matter, and so forth. How did we come to be in the Universe? And how will the Universe evolve? These are other examples of the kinds of questions that have always grabbed me and are at the heart of the research I conduct today."
In addition to being drawn to things fundamental and to fundamental questions about our universe, Dr. Mezzacappa adds that he "loves mathematics and modeling, and physics brings both of these elements together in a big way."
He completed his undergraduate work in physics at M.I.T. in 1980 and his Ph.D. in physics at the Center for Relativity at the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. He has worked in the areas of astrophysics and cosmology and specializes in the theory of supernovae. In 1999, Dr. Mezzacappa received a DOE Young Scientist Award from Secretary of Energy Richardson and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President Clinton for his supernova work.
"Early influences had everything to do with where I attended graduate school (the Center for Relativity at the University of Texas at Austin), what research I originally took on as a graduate student (Kaluza-Klein cosmology-I was fascinated by the idea that everything was a manifestation of geometry, that geometry was most fundamental), and what research I have been conducting since," says Dr. Mezzacappa.
Currently, Dr. Mezzacappa's research is focused on the study of core collapse supernovae. "These explosions of massive stars are the dominant source of elements in the Universe," says Dr. Mezzacappa. "Understanding core collapse supernovae is really about understanding our place in the Universe."
In 2004, Dr. Mezzacappa was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and in 2005 was elected a UT-Battelle Corporate Fellow in recognition of his supernova work and his role in the development of computational science in the U.S.
Dr. Mezzacappa is the Principal Investigator of the Department of Energy's TeraScale Supernova Initiative, an international initiative involving nearly four dozen researchers from a dozen institutions in the U.S. and Europe. TSI is one of the two largest computational astrophysics initiatives in the world, and the largest focused on the study of core collapse supernovae.
Dr. Tony Mezzacappa's articles accessed via OSTI:
Simulation of the Spherically Symmetric Stellar Core Collapse, Bounce, and Postbounce Evolution of a 13 Solar Mass Star with Boltzmann Neutrino Transport, and Its Implications for the Supernova Mechanism
Please search the E-print Network for additional papers by this researcher.