Andrea Alu Nominated for Blavatnik Award

May 30, 2018

The Graduate Center's Einstein Professor of Physics and director of the Photonics Initiative at the ASRC is a finalist for the world's largest unrestricted prize for early career scientists.


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Photonics Initiative Director Andrea Alù Selected as a Finalist for the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists: World’s Largest Unrestricted Prizes to Early Career Scientists

NEW YORK, May 30, 2018 — Andrea Alù, Einstein Professor of Physics at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (GC/CUNY) and director of the Photonics Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at GC/CUNY, has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

ANDREA ALÙ faculty

Announced today, Alù is one of 31 U.S. researchers who will compete for the world’s largest unrestricted prizes for early-career scientists. Each year, three Blavatnik National Laureates in the categories of life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences and engineering are awarded $250,000 each. This year’s national finalists were selected from 286 outstanding faculty-rank researchers nominated by 146 institutions across 42 states (see list with brief summaries of their work below). These institutions comprise the nation’s leading academic and research centers, and each is requested to name their single-most promising candidate in one or all of the three categories. 
An electrical engineer and physicist by training, Alù is being considered in the Blavatnik Award’s physical science and engineering category for his seminal contributions to the science and technology of metamaterials that mold electromagnetic waves, light and sound in unusual ways. His work has pioneered discoveries in electromagnetic cloaking, nonlinear signal transmission and nanocircuitry.
“I’m humbled and excited to be selected as a finalist along with 10 other scientists for this award,” said Alù. “It’s a very competitive award, and the support it provides helps winning researchers advance their work in critical ways. This kind of opportunity can advance not only a scientist’s career, but also the work to bring life-changing discoveries and advances to humankind.”
“We are thrilled by this recognition of Andrea’s work,” said GC/CUNY Dean of Sciences Joshua Brumberg. “We knew when we recruited him to lead the ASRC’s Photonics Initiative that we were tapping an individual who would help lead the center toward becoming a global hub for interdisciplinary scientific research. The Blavatnik Award nomination highlights that The Graduate Center is on its way to achieving this goal.”
Spearheaded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, the Blavatnik National Awards recognize both the past accomplishments and the future promise of the most talented scientific and engineering researchers aged 42 years and younger at America’s top academic and research institutions. The three 2018 National Laureates will be announced on June 27, 2018.
“We created the Blavatnik Awards to identify the brightest young minds in science early in their scientific careers,” said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and member of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences. “These 31 finalists, through their creative, cutting-edge research, have demonstrated great promise for future discoveries of enormous scientific importance.”
Past finalists have gone on to make discoveries that turn science fiction into reality, including creating plants that emit light or detect explosives, formulating new theories of time travel through black holes, bioengineering micro-robots that can swim through arteries and heart valves, gene-editing DNA and RNA sequences to treat previously incurable genetic diseases, and detecting infectious epidemic viruses through a cellphone. Blavatnik Scholars advance the progress of humanity through scientific discovery.
“The 31 national finalists in the U.S. join the Blavatnik Awards community of scholars — a decade’s worth of finalists and laureates who are leading scientific research into the next century,” said Ellis Rubinstein, president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences and chair of the awards’ Scientific Advisory Council. “With continued support and recognition from the Blavatnik Awards, our goal is to launch these pioneering young scientists onto an even higher trajectory of scientific pursuit, giving them a visible platform to attract new collaborators, future grants, investors, and other key resources.”
The Blavatnik Awards, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the United States in 2007, and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding scientific talent in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards were inaugurated in 2014 and, in 2018, the awards were expanded to include young scientists in the United Kingdom and Israel.
By the close of 2018, the Blavatnik Awards will have conferred prizes totaling $6.6 million, honoring 271 outstanding young scientists and engineers.
The 2018 Blavatnik national laureates and finalists will be honored at the Blavatnik National Awards on Monday, September 24, 2018, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Organizational Attribution
Our correct name is the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. For the purpose of space, Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY is acceptable. On second reference, ASRC is correct.
About the Advanced Science Research Center
The ASRC at The Graduate Center elevates scientific research and education at CUNY and beyond through initiatives in five distinctive, but increasingly interconnected disciplines: environmental sciences, nanoscience, neuroscience, photonics, and structural biology. The ASRC promotes a collaborative, interdisciplinary research culture with renowned researchers from each of the initiatives working side-by-side in the ASRC’s core facilities, sharing equipment that is among the most advanced available.
About the Blavatnik Family Foundation
The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of many leading educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and throughout the world. Recipients of Foundation support include University of Oxford, Harvard University, Yale University, Tel Aviv University, Stanford University, New York University, the New York Academy of Sciences, Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Opera House, the Hermitage Museum, the Israel Museum, Lincoln Center, Jewish charitable organizations, and countless other philanthropic institutions. The Foundation is headed by Len Blavatnik, a major American and British entrepreneur and philanthropist. Len Blavatnik is the Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately held U.S. industrial group with global strategic interests in natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, venture capital, and real estate.
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About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been driving innovative solutions to society’s challenges by advancing scientific research, education, and policy. Throughout its history, the Academy's Membership has featured thinkers and innovators from all walks of life, including U.S. Presidents Jefferson and Monroe, Thomas Edison, Lord Kelvin, Charles Darwin, Margaret Mead, Louis Pasteur, and over 130 Nobel Laureates. Today, the Academy numbers over 20,000 Members in 100+ countries, with a President's Council that includes 36 Nobel Laureates and a distinguished Board of Governors comprised of leaders from business, academia, and philanthropy. It is also young and dynamic with nearly 10,000 post-doctoral, post-graduate, undergraduate, and gifted high school student Members. Through collective action, the Academy is partnering with the United Nations to address their Sustainable Development Goals, advising national leaders and organizing public-private partnerships to address the grand challenges of the planet.
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2018 Blavatnik National Finalists in Physical Sciences & Engineering
From predicting and understanding the behavior and makeup of astronomical bodies with astonishing accuracy to using enormous data sets to understand more about the human condition, the 2018 National Finalists in Physical Sciences & Engineering are pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding of the universe around us, both near and far. This year’s finalists are also rapidly advancing our scientific understanding of unique physical phenomena that exist at the nano- and even atomic scale, helping to create technologies that will revolutionize the telecommunications, opto-electronics, and energy storage industries. 
Andrea Alù (City University of New York, Advanced Science Research Center; formerly of University of Texas at Austin) – Electrical engineer and physicist Dr. Alù has made seminal contributions to the theory and engineering of metamaterials and introduced new concepts to create metamaterials that mold electromagnetic waves, light and sound in unusual ways. He has made pioneering discoveries in plasmonic cloaking and invisibility, optical nanocircuits and nanoantennas, and in generating nonlinear and nonreciprocal optical responses in metamaterials.
Alexandra Boltasseva (Purdue University) – A physicist and electrical engineer, Dr. Boltasseva’s research approach merges the field of optics with materials engineering and is making possible a new generation of nanophotonic technologies and all-optical devices for telecommunications, sensing, energy and information processing.  Her research in plasmonics – where light is confined to the nanoscale enabling a range of new devices to be developed – has uncovered new tailorable ceramic plasmonic materials, which have improved performance over previously used materials.
Xiangfeng Duan (University of California, Los Angeles) – As a physical chemist, Dr. Duan focuses on the design and synthesis of highly complex nanostructures with controlled chemical composition, structural morphology and physical dimensions. He places particular emphasis on the integration of nanoscale structures with different chemical composition, structure or function, thereby creating a new generation of integrated nanosystems with unprecedented performance or unique functions to break the boundaries of traditional technologies.
Jonathan Fortney (University of California, Santa Cruz) – A planetary scientist, Dr. Fortney’s research challenges our current understanding of the formation, evolution and structure of distant exoplanets and planets in our very own solar system. For instance, his research investigating hot Jupiter-class exoplanet atmospheres has provided strong evidence for the existence of two unique classes of exoplanetary atmospheres on these planets and is shaping our understanding of planetary composition and formation.
Ryan Hayward (University of Massachusetts Amherst) – As a polymer scientist and chemical engineer, Dr. Hayward creates material systems with elastic buckling instabilities that transform their shape, surface morphology and material properties, on demand. He has developed microscale polymeric sheets that self-fold into origami structures and 3D shapes in response to external stimuli such as light and heat. His work also focuses on the assembly of nanoscale materials such as polymer nanowires and polymer-embedded nanoparticles to control macroscale properties.
Sergei V. Kalinin (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) – A materials scientist and nanoscientist, Dr. Kalinin creates novel technologies to study and control the functionality of nanomaterials by combining imaging, big data and materials theory. Dr. Kalinin and his collaborators recently challenged a 25-year paradigm by proposing and implementing the atomic forge — a new approach that uses the atomically-focused beam of a scanning transmission electron microscope to control and direct matter, manipulating single atoms to enable fundamental physical studies and also to develop quantum computing and single-spin magnetoelectronic devices.
Jure Leskovec (Stanford University) – Dr. Leskovec is a computer scientist who has revolutionized our understanding of large social and information networks. Using experiments, analysis and modeling, he was first to validate the “six degrees of separation” hypothesis and demonstrated how influence and trust propagate through social networks and shape online communities, viral networking and media bias.
Ying Shirley Meng (University of California, San Diego) – Dr. Meng, a materials scientist and engineer, utilizes computational approaches and unique operando and in-situ experimental approaches to understand, develop and optimize the behavior and operation of electrolyte and electrode materials in batteries to drive better energy storage and conversion performance.  She and her team recently developed a novel type of liquefied gas electrolyte material that allows battery operation at ultra-cold temperatures.

Brian Metzger (Columbia University) – As a theoretical astrophysicist, Dr. Metzger works on a broad range of topics related to the “transient” universe.  In 2010, he predicted the visual flares — termed “kilonova” — that accompany the coalescence of binary neutron stars.  In 2017, the LIGO/Virgo collaboration detected gravitational waves from merging neutron stars for the first time.  The fading light seen following this event agreed remarkably well with Dr. Metzger’s predictions and revealed these mergers as factories of the heaviest elements — like gold — in the universe.
Anastasia Volovich (Brown University) – Dr. Volovich is a theoretical physicist working in quantum field theory, general relativity and string theory. She has developed extremely efficient methods to evaluate scattering amplitudes, the key quantities that describe scattering of elementary particles, and discovered a remarkable connection between mathematical cluster algebras and scattering amplitudes, sparking an intense new interaction between physics and mathematics.

Gleb Yushin (Georgia Institute of Technology) – A materials scientist and nanoscientist, Dr. Yushin has made multiple transformative contributions to the synthesis of advanced materials for batteries and supercapacitors. Combining innovative nanoscale synthesis approaches with the development of novel analytical techniques, he develops nanostructured and nanocomposite materials with remarkable performance characteristics. He has recently discovered a fundamentally new synthesis mechanism to fabricate oxide nanowires from low-cost powders. His research has applications in next-generation electric vehicles and electronic devices.

About The Graduate Center
The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the world’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.