Robert B. Hallock - brief biographical sketch

Brief Biographical Sketch of Robert B. Hallock

Robert Hallock received his B.S. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1965 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1969 and joined the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1970 following a postdoctoral year at Stanford. His research efforts have centered on experimental studies of thin films of superfluid liquid helium and more recently on solid helium. These studies have been directed toward an understanding of the metastable flow properties of the films, the behavior of third sound for pure 4He and for 3He-4He mixtures, the Kosterlitz-Thouless two-dimensional phase transition, the dynamical behavior of such films on patterned and disordered substrates, the behavior of 3He-4He mixture films, the wetting properties of helium to alkali-metal surfaces, capillary condensation and avalanche phenomena in porous materials invaded by liquid helium, localization phenomena and adsorption studies of helium in the context of one-dimensional and two-dimensional substrates. Recently he has initiated a study in a new direction and has done work that shows that it is possible to cause 4He atoms to move through a sample cell that is filled with solid 4He. This work has revealed a universal character to the temperature dependence of the flux as well as a sharp extinction of the flux at low temperatures, the onset of which depends on the impurity concentration of 3He. He has also done x-ray scattering measurements on bulk 4He with an emphasis on changes in the spatial structure of the liquid associated with the superfluid transition. In addition to his work with helium, he has carried out studies of high transition temperature superconductors prepared by novel polymeric techniques, studies of the adsorption of He and H to carbon nanotube bundles, and studies of macromolecular adsorption to surfaces at room temperature. These latter studies have contributed substantially to the understanding of behavior and the development of techniques necessary to the development of a highly sensitive technique for immunological and other macromolecular testing. His work has resulted in more than two hundred thirty research publications.

His interests in teaching have led to the introduction of new courses in Superfluidity and Superconductivity, the Physics of Fluids, introductory physics courses for students interested in Natural Resources, in the Nursing program, and an introductory course for artists and photographers on the science of light. He has been active in cooperative work with Five Colleges Inc. (among Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts) where he helped to create a modular Advanced Laboratory for Physics, an Undergraduate Colloquium series and an initiative that led to a successful Five College proposal to Pew. His teaching-related activity, in addition to regular classroom teaching, has involved the collaborative development of a pilot course on the subject of Pictographic and Graphical Literacy, "Envisioning Information: The Population Dilemma", designed to improve access to the higher curriculum for entering students. Most recently he has contributed to the development of (and now teaches) a course "Seeing the Light" designed for art, photography and other students interested in a basic understanding of the physics of light. He most enjoys teaching students at all levels in General Education physics courses.

He has served the University of Massachusetts in a number of capacities in addition to his eight and one half years of service as Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and one year as Interim Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. At various times he has been, among other things, the chair of search committees for a Chancellor, a Provost (co-chair) and a Graduate Dean. He has also chaired the University Research Council, served as a member of the Chancellor's Commission on Graduate Education and Research, and the Advisory Board of the University of Massachusetts Press. He served Chair of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Personnel Committee several times, a member of the faculty committee that drafted a proposal for periodic multi-year faculty review, which was adopted by the faculty and accepted by the University administration, and a member of two of the search committees for Vice Chancellor for Research. Currently he is Director of the Laboratory for Low Temperature Physics and Faculty Advisor to the Center for Teaching. He recently stepped down after serving fourteen years as and Chair of the College of Natural Science Distinguished Professor Screening Committee, but continues as a member of the committee. Some of his wider service roles have included membership on the Buckley Prize Award Committee of the American Physical Society, membership on the evaluation committee that carried out an evaluation of the Council for Undergraduate Research, membership on the Fundamental Physics Discipline Working Group that advises NASA, membership on various international conference organizing committees, chair of the international Quantum Fluids and Solids 1998 conference, member and past Chair of the Steering Committee for the yearly Quantum Fluids and Solids international conferences and service as a consultant to the Research Corporation on matters of academic development. He is currently an active emeritus member of the Board of Directors of Research Corporation (a private foundation dedicated to science, on whose board he served for ten years during which time he served as Chair of its Task Force on Strategic Planning, Chair of its Science Advancement Committee and a member of its Governance and Nominating Committee). He also served for nine years as the United States representative to the IUPAP Commission C5, and during that time served as the IUPAP-C5 Secretary and then as Chairman.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and has held AFOSR-NRC, A. P. Sloan, J.S. Guggenheim, and Distinguished University Faculty Fellowships. In 1992 he was awarded the Chancellor's Medal for Research at the University of Massachusetts, and in 1998 was designated a University Distinguished Teacher of the Year. In 2001 he was awarded the title Distinguished Professor and in 2005 was awarded the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dean's Leadership Award. In 2008 he received the Distinguished Faculty Award. His outside interests include fine-art photography ( with a strong emphasis on black and white traditional technique. In this context he has had several solo exhibitions of his work in gallery settings and also has published articles that explore some of the physics of photography for active photographers.

A complete vitae ( is also available.