For research in the fields of astrophysics and supernova science.
Mezzacappa, who heads the Theoretical Astrophysics Group in Physics, earned his Ph.D. in 1988 at the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining ORNL in 1996, he held positions at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he is currently adjunct professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
A world leader in computational astrophysics and a pioneer in the field of supernova science, Mezzacappa was the first to implement Boltzmann kinetic theory to model neutrino transport during supernova explosions, a theoretical and numerical feat long thought impossible. Since joining ORNL in 1996, he has conceived, proposed, and now leads the Terascale Supernova Initiative, a multi-million dollar, multiyear DOE initiative involving several dozen researchers at a dozen institutions around the world. TSI is one of the world's largest computational astrophysics initiatives.
Mezzacappa is a fellow of the American Physical Society and received the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering in 1999. His extensive community outreach efforts include involvement in the Universe Knoxville project and the proposed downtown relocation and expansion of the East Tennessee Discovery Center.
Mezzacappa lives in Knoxville with his wife, Mary Ellen Johansen, and his three children, Hannah, Noah, and Isabel.