By Ashley Yeager

physicist Ashutosh Kotwal

Physicist Ashutosh Kotwal's thesis paper is now famous in the high-energy physics field. Image courtesy of Ashutosh Kotwal.

Physicist Ashutosh Kotwal spent his days in graduate school making particles scatter. Little did he know that his 1996 thesis on protons, deuterons and muons would become famous.

Kotwal, now a full professor at Duke, recently learned from a former mentor, Northwestern physicist Heidi Schellman,that his Ph.D thesis earned “famous paper” distinction in his field of high-energy physics. The honor is based on the number of times other researchers have mentioned the work in the scientific literature. Schellman had been the leader for Kotwal’s thesis research collaboration.

The high-energy physics community has maintained its own database of publications and citations at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center since the 1980s. Kotwal’s thesis paper has 252 citations, to date.

His paper is now ranked number 99 among experimental high-energy physics famous papers from the last 15 years.

According to the stats, Kotwal is also co-author on five other “famous” papers and two “renowned” articles, which each have more than 500 citations. Kotwal said he hopes his thesis paper’s distinction “can provide some inspiration” for students interested in physics research.