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UC San Diego to Celebrate Scientific Achievements of Sheldon Schultz

A founding member of the Department of Physics, who passed away earlier this year, Schultz invented metamaterials identified as a scientific breakthrough by the journal 'Science'

The Shelly Schultz Symposium will honor the scientific achievements of UC San Diego's Sheldon "Shelly" Schultz, pictured here. Photo courtesy of UC San Diego Dept. of Physics


  • Cynthia Dillon

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  • Cynthia Dillon

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The University of California San Diego’s Department of Physics is hosting a celebration open to the public called “Shelly Schultz Symposium: A Life in Science,” Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Ida and Cecil Green Faculty Club on campus—guests planning to attend are required to register in advance. The symposium celebrates the vast achievements of Sheldon “Shelly” Schultz, the late professor of physics who, along with colleagues, discovered metamaterials that were recognized as a scientific breakthrough by the journal “Science” in 2003. Their research created a new class of materials that have unique optical properties and have been used in a number of modern technological applications, including manipulating light to circumvent objects, creating a so-called “cloak of invisibility”—similar to the one made famous in the Harry Potter books and films.

Schultz’ work has also been applied to enhancing electromagnetic fields as part of ultrafast science. This is the sphere of the ultrasmall and the ultrafast—atoms and molecules vibrating at quadrillionths-of-a-second cycles—and nanotechnology. Schultz worked on campus as a researcher for 53 years, and he led the Center for Magnetic Recording Research (CMRR) from 1990 to 2000. He is also remembered as a caring teacher and a kind and successful individual.

“Sheldon Schultz was instrumental in shaping UC San Diego physics. His legacy of discovery and caring instruction is both inspiring and humbling,” said Steven Boggs, dean of the Division of Physical Sciences. “We are forever grateful to him.”

Oleg Shpyrko, physics professor and recipient of a 2016/2017 Distinguished Teaching Award at UC San Diego, is helping to organize the celebration.

“We prefer to call this a ‘Celebration of Scientific Achievements’,” said Shpyrko. “This is the first time we honor professor Schultz in this way.”

Among the celebrants for this premier event are several speakers, including Don Eigler (BS ’75, Ph.D., ’84), one of UC San Diego’s Top 100 Influential Alumni. Other speakers who will share insights about Schultz’ impact include:

  • Lu J. Sham, UC San Diego professor emeritus in physics who specializes in condensed matter theory.
  • Ivan Schuller, a UC San Diego Distinguished Professor in physics and a recipient of the Department of Defense National Security Science and Engineering Fellows award.
  • Current Endowed Chair Professor and director of the CMRR at UC San Diego and alumnus Eric Fullerton (MS ’85, Ph.D. ’91), who will discuss “Shelly and the Success of CMRR.”
  • Alumnus David Smith (’87, MS ’90, PhD ’94), Duke University, who will present “Metamaterials: A UC San Diego Discovery that Produced Revolutionary Science and Disruptive Technologies.”

Additional presenters include: Dan Pinkel, a UC San Diego alumnus (MS ’69, Ph.D. ’74) at UC San Francisco; Saul Oseroff, San Diego State University; alumnus Gregory Benford (MS ’65, Ph.D. ’67) now at UC Irvine; and Harold Weinstock, Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

The scholarly presentations will conclude with a talk by UC San Diego alumnus and Distinguished Professor of Physics Brian Maple (MS ’65, Ph.D. ’69), who will share recollections of Schultz and the early days of UC San Diego. David Schultz will provide closing remarks about “Shelly” and his family. UC San Diego faculty and staff who worked with Schultz are encouraged to attend.

The first students to enroll at UC San Diego in 1960 were graduate students in physics. Part of the Division of Physical Sciences, the Department of Physics is ranked #16 by U.S. News and World Report.

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