PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University professor of physics Phil Marston was awarded the silver medal in physical acoustics by the Acoustical Society of America at its biannual meeting in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 12. 

Only nine other people have received the award since it was initiated 28 years ago. It recognizes contributions to the advancement of science, engineering or human welfare through application of acoustic principles or accomplishment in acoustics.

Marston was recognized for being a “renaissance scientist, using experimental and theoretical techniques to uncover fundamental physical processes.”  He was cited for “contributions to generalized ray theories for acoustical scattering and the acoustical manipulation of fluids to study fundamental phenomena in fluid mechanics and optics.”

One of Marston’s experiments on bubble dynamics was performed on the 1992 NASA space shuttle flight, and others have been aboard NASA reduced-gravity flights at its facilities in Houston and in Cleveland. His work has been funded for a number of years by grants from NASA and the Office of Naval Research.

Marston has made ground-breaking contributions to acoustical scattering, catastrophe optics, cavitation and bubble dynamics, drop dynamics and acoustic radiation stress on fluids.  He is renowned for presenting the “meatiest” papers at ASA meetings and for presenting physical concepts and mathematics in ways that are accessible to his listeners and students.  He serves as associate editor of the ASA journal and as consulting editor in acoustics for the McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology.

In 1978, Marston joined the WSU faculty after working in fluid physics, acoustics and optics as a doctoral student at Stanford University and as a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Seattle Pacific College in 1970, where he graduated first in his class. He spent two professional leaves at the Jet Propulsion Lab at the California Institute of Technology. Marston was an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow from 1980-84, and was elected a Fellow by ASA in 1988. In 2000, he received the Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award, WSU’s highest research award.