News: Awards


5 JFI Students Announced Recipients of NSF GFRP

May 10, 2022

Andrei Tokmakoff Elected to National Academy of Sciences

May 3, 2022

Laura Gagliardi Elected to German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

April 29, 2022

5th Year Physics Student Wins Two Science Communication Awards

March 21, 2022

Norbert Scherer Announced As Optica‚Äôs C.E.K. Mees Medal

March 4, 2022

University of Chicago Phoenix shield

Cheng Chin receives Marian and Stuart Rice Research Award

January 11, 2022

Cheng Chin

Promoting new research directions in the physical and mathematical sciences.

Professor Cheng Chin has received the ’21–’22 Marian and Stuart Rice Research Award, a Divisional honor that provides $100,000 for intellectually exciting and innovative research ventures that enable new research directions.

Chin joined the University of Chicago in 2005 and has been a full professor in the Department of Physics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the James Franck Institute since 2012. He is a pioneer in using ultracold atoms to study the quantum phenomena that underlie the behavior of other particles in the universe.

“I am very excited about this generous support from the PSD, and especially from Stuart Rice,” he said. “The fund will enable a brand new research line into molecular quantum matter, on which my students and I are very excited to begin.”

The Marian and Stuart Rice Research Award was established by the family of Stuart Alan Rice, the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Chemistry and former chairman of the Department of Chemistry and dean of the Physical Sciences (1981-1995). It is awarded annually to promote new directions of research in the physical and mathematical sciences at the University of Chicago.


Center for Bright Beams awarded $22M to boost accelerator science

September 24, 2021

JFI logo

Continuing to transform electron beam technology
A collaboration of researchers led by Cornell University and including the University of Chicago has been awarded $22.5 million from the National Science Foundation to continue gaining the fundamental understanding needed to transform the brightness of electron beams available to science, medicine and industry.

­The Center for Bright Beams (CBB), an NSF Science and Technology Center, was created in 2016 with an initial $23 million award to Cornell and partner institutions, including the University of Chicago and affiliated Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. The center integrates accelerator science with condensed matter physics, materials science and surface science in order to advance particle accelerator technologies, which play a key role in creating new breakthroughs in everything from medicine to electronics to particle physics.

The center’s goals are to improve the performance and reduce the cost of accelerator technologies around the world and develop new research instruments that transform the frontiers of biology, materials science, condensed matter physics, particle physics and nuclear physics, as well as new manufacturing tools that enable chip makers to continue shrinking the features of integrated circuits.

“CBB has brought together a remarkably broad palette of researchers encompassing scientists from physics, physical chemistry, materials research, and accelerator science—an unusually diverse team that has the necessary skills and long-range vision to take on the challenge of helping the next-generation of accelerators come to fruition, with impact on many fields,” said Steven J. Sibener, the Carl William Eisendrath Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry and the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago, and a co-leader of CBB’s next-generation superconducting radio frequency materials research. “My role has been profoundly rewarding for my research group and for me personally, introducing us to new research directions in advanced superconducting materials design that will ultimately lead to the innovation of lower-cost accelerators with greatly improved brightness and performance.”

David DeMille wins 2021 Cottrell Plus SEED Award

August 9, 2021

David DeMille

Recognized by Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

David DeMille, University of Chicago and the James Franck Institute, is among five physics and astronomy researchers to win Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s competitive Cottrell Plus SEED (Singular Exceptional Endeavors of Discovery) Awards for 2021.

DeMille received a SEED Award for "Developing a New Tabletop-scale Approach to Detect Particles One Million Times More Massive than the Higgs Boson.""

SEED Awards offer Cottrell Scholars the opportunity to start creative new research or educational activities, granting $50,000 for research projects.

Research Corporation for Science Advancement was founded in 1912 and funds basic research in the physical sciences (astronomy, chemistry, physics, and related fields) at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

William Irvine an Inaugural Recipient of the Brown Investigator Award

March 8, 2021

William Irvine

$2 Million award recognizes curiosity-driven basic research in chemistry and physics.

The Brown Science Foundation announced March 8 that it has chosen University of Chicago Prof. William Irvine for its inaugural Brown Investigator Award. The award, which recognizes curiosity-driven basic research in chemistry and physics, supports the investigators’ research with $2 million over five years to their respective universities. Irvine, who researches fundamental problems in fluid dynamics and condensed matter, is one of two scientists chosen, along with David Hsieh of Caltech.

“Even among a strong group of candidates, Hsieh and Irvine stood out for their scientific vision and willingness to take risk,” said Marc Kastner, senior science advisor for the Science Philanthropy Alliance and chairman of the foundation’s scientific advisory board, which selected the winners. “They’re clear examples of America’s reservoir of mid-career scientists with the proven track record and restless minds needed to advance daring ideas.”

The Brown Science Foundation, a member of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, was established in 1992 by Ross M. Brown. The foundation announced its invitation-only Brown Investigator Award program in 2020 with plans to make eight awards annually by 2025. The program supports the often-overlooked resource of mid-career physics and chemistry researchers in the U.S. According to its website, the foundation is “dedicated to the belief that scientific discovery is a driving force in the improvement of the human condition.”

Press Release


John B. Goodenough awarded 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

October 9, 2019

John B. Goodenough

JFI Doctoral alumnus advised by Clarence Zener.

University of Chicago alumnus John B. Goodenough was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering role in developing the lithium-ion batteries that now power our cell phones, laptop computers and electric cars.

Goodenough, SM’50, PhD’52, a Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, was one of three scientists on Oct. 9 recognized as foundational in the field of modern battery chemistry, sharing this year’s prize with M. Stanley Whittingham of Binghamton University in New York and Akira Yoshino of Meijo University in Japan. Goodenough is among the 92 scholars associated with the University of Chicago to receive a Nobel Prize.

“John Goodenough truly revolutionized modern life with his chemical insight into lithium batteries. His work as a physicist, chemist and engineer is a hallmark of the University of Chicago’s interdisciplinary tradition,” said Prof. Angela Olinto, dean of UChicago’s Division of the Physical Sciences. “This is well-deserved recognition for a career that has been nothing short of extraordinary.”


Dam Thanh Son awarded 2018 ICTP Dirac Medal

August 10, 2018

Dam Thanh Son

For contributions toward understanding novel phases in strongly interacting many-body systems and introducing original cross-disciplinary techniques.

Physicist Dam Thanh Son, University Professor at the University of Chicago, has been awarded the 2018 ICTP Dirac Medal for his contributions to revolutionizing human understanding of how quantum mechanics affects large groups of particles.

Son was awarded the medal with physicists Subir Sachdev of Harvard University and Xiao-Gang Wen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The three winners made independent contributions toward understanding novel phases in strongly interacting many-body systems, according to the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, which awards the Dirac Medal.

“I feel very honored to receive this award alongside two colleagues I deeply respect,” Son said. “The prize is especially valuable to me because ICTP is an institution created to help scientists from the developing world, and I am from Vietnam.”

Son joined the UChicago faculty in 2012 and serves as University Professor in Physics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, James Franck Institute and the College. University Professors are selected for internationally recognized eminence in their fields as well as for their potential for high impact across the University.

Press Release

Three JFI Faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 18, 2018

JFI logo

Recognition for Laurie Butler, Heinrich Jaeger, and Andrei Tokmakoff.

Laurie Butler is a Professor of chemistry with the James Frank Institute. She investigates fundamental inter- and intramolecular forces that drive the courses of chemical reactions, integrating our understanding of quantum mechanics into chemistry. Among other applications, her current work has implications for our models of atmospheric and combustion chemistry. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a former Alfred P. Sloan Fellow.

Heinrich Jaeger is the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Physics and the James Franck Institute. His laboratory studies the investigation of materials under conditions far from equilibrium, especially to design new classes of smart materials. A focus of Jaeger’s work are granular materials, which are large aggregates of particles in far-from-equilibrium configurations, that exhibit properties intermediate between those of ordinary solids and liquids – which could lead to everything from soft robotic systems that can change shape to new forms of architectural structures that are fully recyclable. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and is currently a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Andrei Tokmakoff is the Henry J. Gale Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry with the James Franck Institute. He studies the chemistry of water, and molecular dynamics of biophysical processes such as protein folding and DNA hybridization. His lab uses advanced spectroscopy to visualize how molecular structure changes with time to study these problems. He was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and has received the American Physical Society’s Ernest Plyler Prize, among others.

Dupont, Nagel, and Witten collaborative publication selected as milestone for Physical Review E 25th anniversary celebration

April 17, 2018

JFI logo

Contact line deposits in an evaporating drop.

The year 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Physical Review E. To celebrate the journal’s rich legacy, during the upcoming year we highlight a series of papers that made important contributions to their field. These milestone articles were nominated by members of the Editorial Board of Physical Review E, in collaboration with the journal’s editors. The 25 milestone articles, including an article for each calendar year from 1993 through 2017 and spanning all major subject areas of the journal, will be unveiled in chronological order and will be featured on the journal website.

For the year 2000, the following collaborative work from three groups in the James Franck Institute is featured:

Contact line deposits in an evaporating drop
Robert D. Deegan, Olgica Bakajin, Todd F. Dupont, Greg Huber, Sidney R. Nagel, and Thomas A. Witten
Phys. Rev. E 62, 756 (2000)


Timothy Berkelbach awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

February 26, 2018

Timothy Berkelbach

Prestigious early-career recognition.

Tim Berkelbach, a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, is a theoretical chemist who studies the electronic and optical properties of nanoscale materials. His group adapts computational models written for tens of atoms and scales them up to work for sets of hundreds or thousands—which you need to model materials for applications in solar energy, catalysis and manufacturing, chemical sensing and electronics.

“It’s an honor to be selected, especially alongside such an amazing lineup of people who have been recognized as Sloan fellows over the years,” Berkelbach said.


Bozhi Tian awarded inaugural ETH Materials Research Prize for Young Investigators

October 25, 2017

Bozhi Tian

Recognized by ETH Zürich at Materials Day 2017 meeting.

The ETH Materials Research Prize for Young Investigators recognizes outstanding contributions of young investigators that advance materials, from fundamental to applied research. These contributions could include, for example: the discovery of new classes of materials, the observation of novel phenomena leading to either fundamentally new applications and insights, and work that substantially impacts our understanding or applications of existing materials and phenomena.

Bozhi Tian, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago, triumphed over stiff competition. Tian researches interactions between biological and electronic systems; for example, he examines how the behaviour of cells can be mimicked with semiconducting nanomaterials or how special nanomaterials can be used to measure the electrical conductivity of cells.

“Tian combines hard and soft materials in his research and connects the living with the lifeless,” explains Ralph Spolenak, Professor of Nanometallurgy and Head of the Department of Materials at ETH Zürich. “The bridge between these two poles is a major area in today’s materials science, one that is not only important for medicine, but also enables interesting applications in many other areas.”