100th anniversary of Namsarain Sodnom

News, 25 May 2023

25 May marks the 100th anniversary of Namsarain Sodnom (1923 – 2002), a major Mongolian physicist, an organizer of national science and education, an Academician of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, the JINR Vice-Director in 1967 – 1973.

Namsarain Sodnom started his career path in science and teaching in 1946 at his alma mater – the National University of Mongolia, at which he worked his way up from a docent to the Head of the department, and afterwards the Rector. He defended his PhD thesis at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 1953.

In 1956-1959, Sodnom worked at the Laboratory of Nuclear Problems of the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research. “Thanks to such personal traits as modesty, hard work, exceptional tact in communication, Namsarain Sodnom managed to naturally join the multinational team of the sector and won universal respect,” Professor Peter Isaev, who worked at BLTP JINR and DLNP JINR, shared his memories of the scientist. Sodnom significantly contributed to science and international cooperation of JINR. He signed the first version of the JINR Charter on behalf of Mongolia. He was a Member of the JINR Scientific Council from 1956 to 1991 years. In addition, in different years (1956, 1959–1967, 1988–1991) he was Plenipotentiary Representative of Mongolia at JINR.

In 1967, Professor Sodnom was elected Vice-Director of the Joint Institute. Holding this post, he carried out a lot of scientific and organizational work. As Chairman of the Section of Low Energy Physics at JINR, he defended scientific plans of the Laboratory of Neutron Physics and the Laboratory of Nuclear Problems, their financial support at sessions of the JINR Scientific Council. It required undoubted diplomatic skill. During those years, leading JINR scientists such as Nikolay Bogoliubov, Venedikt Dzhelepov, Mikhail Meshcheryakov, Bruno Pontecorvo, Ilya Frank and others, visited the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia and the National University of Mongolia, delivered their lectures there. It had a positive impact on the development of scientific research in Mongolia. Strong ties of the National University of Mongolia with JINR laboratories established by Sodnom ensure cooperation of scientists at present as well.

Moreover, Vice-Director Academician Sodnom together with DLNP Director Venedikt Dzhelepov actively supported radiobiological experiments at the DLNP synchrocyclotron. Later, he played an important role in the organization of the DLNP Sector of Radiobiological Research, one of the two departments of the Institute that founded the Department of Radiation and Radiobiological Research. In 2005, the last one turned into the Laboratory of Radiation Biology JINR.

In 1959-1967 and 1973-1982, Academician Sodnom was Rector of the National University of Mongolia. In 1984-1987, he returned to JINR. Besides, in 1987-1991, he became the President of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. Since 1991, he was a leading researcher at the Institute of Physics and Technology of Mongolia.

In science, Namsarain Sodnom is known as a specialist in nuclear spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence and nuclear activation analysis, the organization of applied research in nuclear physics. Academician Sodnom studied nuclear reactions between accelerated tritium ions and various light nuclei, developed semiconductor detectors for high-energy physics and a number of other scientific directions.

Namsarain Sodnom was Honoured Educator of Mongolia, Honorary Doctor of the Technical University of Ulaanbaatar, a symbol of scientific cooperation between scientists of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and Mongolia. An alley at the DLNP JINR’s technical site bears the name of the scientist.