News: Awards


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.”

William Irvine elected 2017 APS Fellow and work featured on Physics Today cover

October 18, 2017

William Irvine Physics Today magazine cover

For experiments and theory on the topological aspects of fluid dynamics and mechanical metamaterials.

William Irvine was recently elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, nominated by the Topical Group on Soft Matter. The criterion for APS Fellow election is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers.

Research for the Irvine group was recently featured on the cover of Physics Today. The Irvine Group at the University of Chicago has put a new twist on the smoke ring. Instead of blowing smoke into the air to create and visualize swirling flows known as vortex rings, they drove 3D-printed hydrofoils, lined with fluorescent dye, through water. Here, the wispy outer ring of white dye reveals a vortex ring; the orange and green trails are a tomographic reconstruction of the ring’s evolution over time. To learn how the group’s technique helped unveil hidden structure in fluid vortices, see the story.


Cheng Chin receives BEC 2017 Award

September 6, 2017

Cheng Chin receiving award

Recognized at biennial conference on Bose-Einstein Condensation.

The 2017 Junior BEC Award is given to Cheng Chin for important contributions to the field of Bose-Einstein condensation, including the study of Feshbach resonances, scale invariance in 2D Bose gases, and universality near a quantum phase transition in 2D optical lattices.

Bozhi Tian named one of “Talented Twelve”

August 23, 2017

Bozhi Tian award

Chemical & Engineering News identifies young rising stars.

Recognized as a "Bioelectronics Boss" who turns common reagents into unconventional materials, twists ordinary lab procedures into uncommon ones, and finds ways of using his creations in nontraditional applications.

“Bozhi is the real definition of an interdisciplinary scientist,” says fellow Chicago chemistry professor Andrei Tokmakoff. He adds that Tian is also fearless, thoughtful, and soft-spoken, which is unusual in the materials business, where there can be a lot of bluster.

Suri Vaikuntanathan awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

February 21, 2017

Sloan Foundation Logo

Prestigious early-career recognition.

The Sloan Research Fellows are the rising stars of the academic community,” says Paul L. Joskow, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Through their achievements and ambition, these young scholars are transforming their fields and opening up entirely new research horizons. We are proud to support them at this crucial stage of their careers.”

Press Release


Heinrich Jaeger receives 2016 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring

June 2, 2016

Heinrich Jaeger

When it comes to graduate education, it’s the questions that concern Heinrich Jaeger, not the answers.