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Russell J. Hemley, Senior Staff Scientist

Russell J. Hemley is a senior staff scientist of the Geophysical Laboratory. His research examines the properties of materials at high-pressures and its applications to geophysics, geochemistry and planetary science, as well as to theoretical condensed-matter physics and chemistry. He uses optical spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, and diamond-cell techniques to conduct high-pressure experimental and theoretical studies in condensed-matter physics, earth and planetary science and materials science. He obtained a Ph.D and MA in physical chemistry from Harvard University in 1983 and 1980, and received a BA in chemistry and philosophy from Wesleyan University in 1977.

Rus's research explores the chemistry of materials over a broad range of thermodynamic conditions from low to very high pressures. He began his research career in molecular spectroscopy and electronic structure theory. An interest in the effects of high pressures on materials led him to the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. There he began to apply and extend chemical physics techniques in high-pressure diamond anvil cell experiments.

Since then, his research program has expanded to include high-pressure experimental and theoretical studies in condensed matter physics, earth and planetary science, and materials science. Some of his accomplishments include the discovery of new phenomena in dense hydrogen at megabar pressures; observations of unusual transformations in molecular materials and novel high-pressure molecular compounds; the creation of new superconductors, magnetic structures, glasses, and superhard materials under pressure. He is also involved in the continued development of high-pressure techniques, including optical methods, synchrotron radiation for diffraction and spectroscopy, and transport measurements.

Russell J. Hemley grew up in California, Colorado, and Utah. After a post-doctoral fellowship in theoretical chemistry at Harvard (1983-84), he joined the Geophysical Laboratory as a Carnegie Fellow (1984-86) and Research Associate (1986-87), and became a Staff Scientist in 1987. He has been a visiting Professor at the Johns Hopkins University (1991-92) and at the Ecole Normale Superieure, Lyon (1996).

He is the recipient of the 1990 Mineralogical Society of America Award, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2001. In 2005, he was awarded the Balzan Prize in Mineral Physics, and in 2008 he became a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and was elected Honoris Causa Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences.  In 2009, he received the Percy W. Bridgman Award.  He has been an author on over 580 publications.