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Diehl Receives Fulbright Fellowship

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Renee Diehl, professor of physics at Penn State, has received a Fulbright Fellowship. As part of her fellowship, Diehl spent six months at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where she focused on the use of high-energy-resolution atomic beam scattering to study the fundamental properties of new materials. Diehl says, "We discovered that the diffusional motion of some alkali metal atoms on copper surfaces has a perpendicular component, which was completely unexpected."

Diehl’s research into the properties of weakly adsorbed atoms on surfaces has led to a new paradigm for the understanding of weak adsorption. She discovered that alkali metal atoms such as potassium and cesium often occupy the top sites--meaning they sit on top of other atoms on surfaces rather than in the spaces between them. After this unexpected discovery, she found, even more surprisingly, that noble gases such as xenon and krypton do the same.

At Penn State, Diehl received a Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Research Work in 2004 and an Achieving Woman Award in 2001. She was named an honorary member of Sigma Delta Epsilon National Association for Graduate Women in Science in 2001 and a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2000. She received a Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1999, the Provost's Collaborative and Curricular Innovations Award in 1997, and the National Science Foundation Visiting Professorship for Women in 1994. She also received an Outstanding Service Award from the Women in the Sciences and Engineering (WISE) Institute at Penn State in 2006.

Diehl joined Penn State in 1990 and was named full professor in 1998. She was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1999 and a Fellow of the United Kingdom Institute of Physics in 2003. She serves on the executive board of the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter. She earned a bachelor's degree in physics at Juniata College in 1976 and a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Washington in 1982.

The Fulbright Program, recognized as the U.S. government's flagship program in international educational exchange, was created in 1946 as part of an effort to promote "mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world." The Council for International Exchange of Scholars, under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State, administers the Fulbright Scholars Program. Each year, the program sends approximately 800 U.S. faculty and professionals to more than 150 countries to conduct research, lecture, or participate in seminars, while about 800 foreign faculty come to the United States.

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