Physics Department Faculty:
Mara PrentissMallinckrodt Professor of Physics
PhD 1986, MIT
The research group headed by Mara Prentiss emphasizes the manipulation of matter by light. The experiments are based on the interaction between a laser field and the dipole moment induced in an atom by the field. Professor Prentiss is head of the Consortium for Light Force Dynamics, through which the group collaborates with NIST at Gaithersburg, Colorado State University, and the Harvard Chemistry Department.
The Prentiss group has pioneered the field of atom lithography, which uses light to manipulate a neutral atomic beam as it is deposited on a substrate.
Jacob Shapiro’s expertise is in the field of radiation protection. He was the first to measure the dose to the lungs in animals exposed to radon and its decay products and his PhD thesis, published in 1960 was a major source of data and analysis for the setting of concentration limits. He directed the radiation protection program at Harvard University between 1961 and 1996 and then was a senior scientist until his retirement in 1997. During this period, he was also on the faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health, and served on the radiation safety committees of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He directed a study of the exposure of airport workers across the nation to radiation from shipments of radioactive materials and of the resultant radiation levels in passenger aircraft. He also did research on airborne alpha radioactivity from plutonium surface contamination as a summer faculty researcher at the Lawrence Livermore Radiation Laboratory. He was chair of a committee on surface contamination that recommended surface radioactivity limits for the uncontrolled release of equipment and facilities that were adopted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He is currently a visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Prior to coming to Harvard, he served as a technical advisor to the Health and Safety Division of the Atomic Energy Commission and later performed radiation analysis in relation to the design of radiation shielding for nuclear submarines at the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics corporation.
Dr. Shapiro is a fellow of the Health Physics Society. His book "Radiation Protection, a Guide for Scientists, Regulators and Physicians," published by the Harvard University Press, has served for almost four decades as the definitive guide to the safe use of radioactive materials and is in its fourth edition.