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James Lattimer

Distinguished Professor 
Physics and Astronomy
Stony Brook University

James Lattimer was born in Indiana and has a BS in Physics from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. He spent 6 months at the University of Chicago and 3 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as postdocs before moving to Stony Brook University in 1979. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Physics & Astronomy. His awards include Sloan and Guggenheim Fellowships, election as an APS Fellow (2001), and the APS Hans A. Bethe Prize (2015). His 1976 PhD thesis, entitled “Black Hole-Neutron Star Collisions”, speculated that neutron stars in merging compact binaries tidally eject substantial quan-tities of neutron-rich matter that subsequently form r-process nuclei, the half of all nuclei heavier than iron formed by the rapid capture of neutrons. The rate of mergers and the estimated amount of ejected matter is sufficient to explain observed abundances. The re-cent neutron star merger GW170817 seems to have substantially confirmed this picture. He and co-authors extended the nuclear liquid drop to describe neutron star matter with arbitrary densities, temperatures and proton fractions. This work led in 1991 to the first open source tabulated dense matter equation of state for use in supernova and merger com-putations. He and Adam Burrows in 1986 predicted the neutrino signal associated with neutron star birth which was observed shortly afterwards from SN1987A. He has worked on many aspects of neutron star structure, composition, formation and evolution.