About Dr. R.P. Drake

Professor R. Paul Drake has played a leading role in the development of two new related fields of inquiry: High-Energy-Density Physics (HEDP) and High-Energy-Density Laboratory Astrophysics (HEDLA). Drake devised and led, beginning in 1999, the first astrophysically relevant experiments to produce radiative shocks, and has published papers on the theory of these shocks. These experiments have continued and evolved, which has led to a number of papers by his group members, and soon will have been the subject of three Ph.D. theses. This set the stage for the successful establishment, in 2008, of the 5-year, $17-million Center for Radiative Shock Hydrodynamics (CRASH) at the University of Michigan.

Professor Drake has graduated Ph.D. students working in laser-plasma interactions, radiation hydrodynamics, waves in the solar wind, and astrophysical flows. He has published papers in experiments, theory, and simulation. Having worked in several areas of HEDP, he was motivated to teach and write in this area. He began offering a graduate course at Michigan in this area and in alternate years he single-handedly teaches an intense, two-week summer school in this subject, which has been attended by graduate students and young scientists from the US, Europe, and Asia. He authored the first graduate textbook in HEDP, entitled High-Energy-Density Physics, and published by Springer in 2006. In addition to his book, he has produced more than 140 refereed (peer-reviewed) journal publications and more than 180 total citable publications. He was recently invited to review HEDP in a plenary lecture as part of the 50 th anniversary celebration of the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) of the American Physical Society, in November 2008.

During the early 1990s Prof. Drake became a national advocate for university research in HEDP, which at the time was nearly nonexistent. Both his advocacy and his demonstration that such research was possible, at a number of laser facilities, contributed to the national context that led to the establishment of the "Science Use of Nova" program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and to the initiation of broader national support for university research in HEDP in the mid 1990s. His national role in this area continued. He was invited to speak before the Committee that published the National Academies Press report, Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century in 2003, which advocated increased research in HEDP because of its connections to astrophysics. He was also invited to speak before the Committee that published the National Academies Press Report High Energy Density Physics: The X-Games of Contemporary Science in 2002. These two National Research Council (NRC) reports led to the formation by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) of a National Task Force on High Energy Density Physics, which invited him to speak and produced a report entitled Frontiers for Discovery in High Energy Density Physics in 2004. This in turn led to the formation of an Interagency Working Group to determine how the U.S. government should proceed in stewarding the field of HEDP.

Drake was one of three scientists invited in Nov. 2006 to meet with members of this task force regarding the connection of HEDP and Laboratory Astrophysics. The outcome of the Interagency Working Group was the formation this year of a joint program between the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and the DOE National Nuclear Security Agency to steward the growth of HEDP as a fundamental discipline. Drake was a member of the first workshop to identify fundamental scientific elements of this program, the High-Energy-Density Laboratory Plasmas workshop, convened by the DOE Under Secretary of Science in 2007, and of the Federal Advisory Committee Subpanel to provide advice regarding the structure of this program in 2008. Through the work described above, Prof. Drake is also recognized as a founder of the area of High-Energy-Density Laboratory Astrophysics. He has been active in advocacy for and service to this new area. In the mid-1990s he was a founding member of the executive committee of the Topical Group on Plasma Astrophysics of the American Physical Society. He served as the fifth chair of the Topical Group in 2001. He has been a long-term organizer and has been chair of the HEDLA Conference, noted for its promotion of interdisciplinary research combining laboratory scientists with astrophysicists. He has spoken for the NRC Plasma Science Committee on issues of laboratory astrophysics. He is a member of the Laboratory Astrophysics Working Group of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), formed in 2007.

Drake has made a sustained national and international impact in other ways as well. He has collaborated on experiments in France and Canada. He is frequently invited to survey HEDLA or HEDP for international audiences. The BBC documentary entitled Hyperspace includes a segment shot featuring him and his team's experiments, filmed at a major laser facility.