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Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2015-16 Faculty Research Lecturer Award

Joseph Incandela - Physics

The Faculty Research Lecturer is the highest academic honor that UCSB bestows on a member of its faculty. The 2015-16 Faculty Research Lectureship, the 61st since the creation of the award in 1955, is awarded to Professor Joseph Incandela.

Dr. Incandela completed his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1986, and became a Fellow of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). In 1991 Dr. Incandela joined the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory as a Fermilab Wilson Fellow, where he led several detector projects and co-led the search for top quarks that provided the most significant contribution to their discovery in 1995. In 2001 he joined UC Santa Barbara as a professor in the Department of Physics. For the past two decades, he has been involved with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, initially leading the construction of a large part of the tracking system for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment.

Joe Incandela is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society.

In 2011 Dr. Incandela was elected as leader of the CMS experiment, involving more than 3,000 scientists from 39 countries; the following year, on July 4, 2012, Dr. Incandela announced the monumental discovery of the Higgs Boson, a fundamental particle of nature whose detection provided the final experimental verification of the so-called Standard Model of particle physics. The paper announcing this discovery has been cited over 5,000 times. In 2013 he was appointed the inaugural Joe and Pat Yzurdiaga Chair in Experimental Science, and he was also the recipient of the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

Dr. Incandela’s current research is focused on finding evidence for physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics and one that could help explain the existence of the Higgs Boson at the electroweak scale; this has the potential to also provide a better understanding of dark matter.

The Higgs Boson is the first elementary particle to be discovered that has no intrinsic angular momentum. As such its mass is susceptible to divergent quantum corrections. A possible symmetry between bosons and fermions, Supersymmetry, offers counter-terms to stabilize the Higgs mass at the electroweak scale. A by-product of this symmetry, when it is combined with a new conserved parity, would be the existence of a new particle that is an excellent candidate for dark matter particles. Joe is currently in the process of developing new particle detectors to enable continued studies of the Higgs Boson. Further, in a future, extremely high intensity period of the LHC program, slated to start in 2025, he will also be part of the searches for new particles. He has also initiated studies in physics that are relevant to a future collider, that will operate at approximately 10 times the energy of the LHC.

Internationally Dr. Incandela is among the top world leaders in the large and active field of experimental particle physics. His “ability to present a lecture of interest to a broad community of scholars, and in general, to a cultivated public” was highly commended by his nominator, and has brought him to numerous public talks and colloquia around the world.

It is also my pleasure to note that Dr. Incandela has been an active participant in campus governance. He has served as a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Faculty and Staff Housing, and the Design Review Committee. He also served as a member of the Academic Senate’s Council on Planning and Budget, chairing the subpanel on Social Sciences, as well as the Committee on Capital and Space Planning. Most recently he has been appointed as the Interim Vice Chancellor for Research at UCSB.

It is with no doubt that Dr. Incandela continues to be highly respected, particularly in the community of those shaping the future of particle physics. Time and again his supporters applaud his managerial and leadership abilities, and, as one stated: “Besides his exceptional scientific creativity and productivity, and his managerial talents…prestigious awards, he always ‘kept his feet on the floor.’ This was striking [whether] with media, or general public. or students. One could really sense that science is his motivation, not personal fame and glory.”


  • John Bowers (2013), Chair
    Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials, Technology Management Program
  • Leda Cosmides (2012 co-recipient), Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • Howard Giles (2006), Communication
  • Linda Petzold (2011), Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science
  • Linda Putnam (2015), Communication
  • John Tooby (2012 co-recipient), Anthropology

In reviewing many exceptional nominees, the Committee on Faculty Research Lectureship gives primary consideration to:

  • Extraordinary and/or high impact achievements in research and scholarly work;
  • Outstanding professional competence and international recognition in a field; and
  • Ability to present a lecture of interest to a broad community of scholars and, in general, to a cultivated public