Assistant Professor Shinsei Ryu has been awarded a prestigious New Horizons in Physics Prize by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation for his pioneering work in theoretical condensed matter physics. The prize recognizes his fundamental work on the holographic derivation of the entanglement entropy in quantum critical systems and conformal field theories using AdS/CFT correspondence.
The citation reads, "For fundamental ideas about entropy in quantum field theory and quantum gravity."
University of Illinois Swanlund Professor of Physics and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics Laura Greene has been appointed to serve as vice chair of the C10 Commision of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). The C10 Commission is tasked with promoting the exchange of information and views among members of the international condensed matter physics community and with promoting collaborations between condensed matter physicists and scientists in complementary fields. The commission actively supports international conferences, generates written materials promoting the field, and awards scientific prizes that recognize excellence in the field.
Physics Illinois alumnus Matthew Fisher, a professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, has been awarded the 2015 Oliver E. Buckley Prize for discovery and pioneering investigations of the superconductor-insulator transition, a paradigm for quantum phase transitions.
Associate Professor Nadya Mason has been appointed a John Bardeen Faculty Scholar in Physics, an appointment that will continue indefinitely.
Mason is an extensively published experimental condensed matter physicist whose meticulous work and deep-sighted approach have shed light on some of the toughest questions relating to strongly correlated electron systems at the nanoscale.
Professor Peter Abbamonte is one of nineteen outstanding scientists nationwide to be designated a Moore Experimental Investigator in Quantum Materials. Recipients of this five-year grant are selected based on the potential for their research to transform our understanding of quantum materials, making it possible to ask new fundamental questions about the organization and behavior of complex quantum matter.
Abbamonte will use the funds to support an ambitious ongoing project that will address one of the biggest outstanding problems in the field of quantum materials: high-resolution observation of charged boson particles that can emerge from the collective interaction of electrons and ions in these materials when they are cooled to low temperatures.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that Physics Illinois alumnus Dr. Stephen Volz, a top official at NASA and an award-winning aerospace engineer, has been tapped to lead NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS). Volz replaces Mary E. Kicza, who retired earlier this year as the NESDIS assistant administrator. He will assume this new role on November 2.
As assistant administrator, Volz will shepherd NOAA’s programs to build and launch the next generation of environmental satellites: the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series (GOES-R), and other missions, including the Deep Space Climate Observatory, known as DSCOVR. He’ll also manage NOAA’s current spacecraft fleet and NESDIS’ vast climate, oceanographic and geophysical data operations. Data from these NESDIS assets are used throughout NOAA, across the federal family and around the world for operational weather forecasts and climate impact assessments.
This Thursday, two distinguished Physics Illinois alumni—Dr. M. George Craford (MS 1963, PhD 1967) and Dr. Lewis S. “Lonnie” Edelheit (BS Engineering Physics 1964, MS 1966, PhD 1969)—will be inducted into the 2014 Engineering at Illinois Hall of Fame. They are among six total Engineering alumni to be selected for this distinction this year for their significant achievements in leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation of great impact to society.
The induction ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 16, 2014, at 4 p.m. in the Grainger Auditorium at the newly opened Electrical and Computer Engineering Building (306 Wright Street, Urbana. The induction ceremony is open to friends, family, and supporters, and Physics students and faculty are encouraged to attend.
When Illinois researchers set out to investigate a method to control how DNA moves through a tiny sequencing device, they did not know they were about to witness a display of molecular gymnastics.
DNA interacts with charged graphene and contorts into sequence-specific shapes when the charge is changed. | Photo courtesy Alek Aksimentiev
Fast, accurate and affordable DNA sequencing is the first step toward personalized medicine. Threading a DNA molecule through a tiny hole, called a nanopore, in a sheet of graphene allows researchers to read the DNA sequence; however, they have limited control over how fast the DNA moves through the pore. In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, University of Illinois physics professor Aleksei Aksimentiev and graduate student Manish Shankla applied an electric charge to the graphene sheet, hoping that the DNA would react to the charge in a way that would let them control its movement down to each individual link, or nucleotide, in the DNA chain.
Today’s researchers, working with the advantages of new, sophisticated laboratory technology, have unleashed a river of valuable biomedical data—much more, in fact, than many of them have the tools to properly analyze, or the capacity to store. In 2012, the National Institutes of Health created the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative to enable efforts to harness the potential of this flood of information. As part of the first wave of BD2K funding, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Mayo Clinic have now received a $9.34M, 4-year award to create one of several new Centers of Excellence for Big Data Computing.
The NIH initiative encompasses a broad range of “big data” types, including collections of high-resolution research images or real-time recordings of complex biological phenomena. The Illinois-Mayo Center, to be located on the Urbana-Champaign campus, will focus on the analytical challenges posed by the rapidly growing body of genomic and transcriptomic data produced by genome-wide, high-throughput experimental technologies.
From early in its development, the nuclear community has emphasized the need for a “culture of safety.” Today, with an increasing range of potential nuclear threats, there is growing emphasis on a “culture of security ” — and MIT's Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) has augmented its presence in this area by appointing Assistant Professor Areg Danagoulian '99 to contribute to its security-related technology research at the newly formed Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy, which studies technology-policy interactions in nonproliferation, arms control, materials security, and verification.
“The great thing about this department is that you have technologists like me working in close multidisciplinary collaborations with policy researchers and information theorists,” says Danagoulian, who earned an BS in physics from MIT and a PhD in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Illinois. “That’s ultimately what’s needed to solve these problems — policy research driving technological development, and vice versa, technological progress that shapes policy.”