General Lab Information

About Renate W. Chasman

The Renate W. Chasman Award was first given out in 1986 to Long Island-based women who were returning to school following an interruption in their studies to pursue an education in the sciences, engineering or mathematics. The award, which honors the memory of the accelerator physicist whose work underlies today’s synchrotron light sources world-wide, has now been given to over 38 exemplary and deserving graduate students in the STEM fields.

Renate W. Chasman - NSLS

(L to R) Ken Greene, Martin Blume, and Renate Chasman

Renate Wiener Chasman (January 10, 1932 – October 17, 1977) was born Renate Wiener to German Jewish parents in Berlin. Her father, Hans Wiener, was a founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. In 1938, the Wiener family fled Nazi Germany through the Netherlands to Sweden, where Wiener grew up and attended school in Stockholm. Wiener and her sister Edith went to Israel to attend Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Wiener graduated in 1955 with a M.Sc in physics with minors in chemistry and mathematics. She earned her PhD in experimental physics in 1959. Her doctoral thesis demonstrated that a pseudoscalar component was not involved in parity nonconversation in beta decay.

Chien-Shiung Wu was doing similar work and invited Wiener to work at Columbia University as a research associate. There she met Wu’s graduate student Chellis Chasman and together they investigated beta decay. They married in 1962. In 1962, the Chasmans went to Yale University to work with David Allan Bromley in nuclear spectroscopy. Chasman joined Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1963. Beginning in the Department of Physics at Brookhaven, she transferred in 1965 to the Accelerator Department. In the following years, she facilitated important contributions to the development of particle accelerators, redesigning the alternating-gradient proton synchrotron (AGS).

In 1976-77, Ken Green, known for his early work on the Cosmotron and for managing the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) construction project, became the Design Manager for the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) and Renate Chasman, who had been the chief theorist for the AGS linac injector, became the Theory Division Head. As principals of a committee chaired by Martin Blume, then of the Physics Department, they worked closely with others including Chalmers Frazer and Dick Watson of Physics; Jules Godel and Morris Perlman of the Chemistry Department; and John Blewett, Director's Office to design the NSLS.

The basic accelerator storage rings at the NSLS designed by Chasman and Green, were innovative structures capable of very high synchrotron light brightness, which were to hold the world record for brightness for many years. Blewett commented on her NSLS contributions:

“For some time, Rena and the late Ken Green were the whole team doing this design. The results of their work were quite remarkable; a design emerged which was a vast improvement on similar designs being evolved elsewhere in the world. Other machine designs were based on electron storage rings built for use in high energy physics. Rena recognized the different requirements for this machine and devised an arrangement of components peculiarly suited for use as a light source. Many other problems associated with the light source and its special components were solved either by Rena alone or in association with others who later joined the project.”

Together with George Kenneth Green, she was known for the invention of the Chasman-Green lattice for synchrotron storage rings.

Renate Chasman died in October 1977 from melanoma and Ken Green died the same year. The brilliant achievements of Chasman and Green are remembered around the world.

In a 1971 interview, Chasman stated, “I feel that many women are frustrated, and that they just stay home because they feel they have to do it. If a woman was satisfied by working in the house, that's fine. When she was no longer satisfied, she should do something about it.” To keep Chasman's spirit alive, the award was born, benefiting women studying science after taking time off to be homemakers and to raise their children.

At its inception, Associated Universities Incorporated (AUI) made a corporate donation of $1,000 to the Renate W. Chasman Award for Women. The first corporate donation of $500 was made by Long Island Trust, a commercial bank with 46 branches in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. It was solicited by Betty Heldman, a member of the WIS scholarship committee.

The Renate W. Chasman Award for Women is still awarded annually to exceptional candidates in STEM and administered by BWIS. The current award, $2,500, is made possible by Brookhaven Science Associates and the Long Island American Nuclear Society.

Chasman Award Winners

2021 Maria Stefaniak and Mikaela Dunkin
2020 Feng Zhang and Lei Wang
2019 Nusnin Akter and Mengen Wang
2018 Alla Peselis and Shruti Sharma
2017 Hannah Herde and Tiffany Victor
2016 Samema Sarowar
2015 Kristine Horvat
2014 Claire McKay Flynn and Kaitlyn Anne Suarez
2013 No Award Given
2012 Anna Goldberg and Jill Jermyn
2011 No Award Given
2010 Joanna Laroussi and Jamina Oomen-Hajagos
2009 Connie Yee
2008 Kasey Jacobs
2007 No Award Given
2006 Noelle Cutter
2005 Ismat Mahmood
2004 No Award Given
2003 Hyekyung Clarisse Kim
2002 Tamara Blain
2001 Gerda Oruci
2000 Barbara Jean Klaritch-Vrana
1999 Tracy Van Holt
1998 Roseanna Ryan
1997 Janet Dowdy
1996 Mary Carlucci-Dayton
1995 Kristen Curry Grace
1994 Lillian Vulin and Marjaneh Issapour
1993 Diana Friedland
1992 Janice McCarthy
1991 Mary Robinson
1990 Brenda Daniels and Nora Galambos
1989 Mary T. Belletti
1988 Nancy A. Budka
1987 Patricia Beach
1986 Rosemary Baker

Award News