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Faculty Awards and Honors Winter 2020
9 April 2020

Cui-Zu ChangCui-Zu Chang, assistant professor of physics, has been awarded the Outstanding Young Researcher Award (Macronix Prize) from the International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers. The award highlights the contributions of a young Chinese physicist or astronomer working in a region outside Asia. Chang’s research focuses on topological insulators, materials that allow electrons to move along the surface but not in the interior.

Tracy LangkildeTracy Langkilde, professor and head of biology, has been named Distinguished Herpetologist by the Herpetologists' League, an international organization of people devoted to studying herpetology—the biology of amphibians and reptiles. Her research focuses on how species interactions shift over time in response to changes in the environment, including how fence lizards respond to invasive fire ants and how wood frogs respond to noise.

Kohta MuraseKohta Murase, assistant professor of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics, has been awarded the 34th Nishinomiya-Yukawa Memorial Prize, which is awarded to young scientists in theoretical physics each year. He studies the physics and astrophysics related to cosmic rays, the subatomic particles known as neutrinos, and the properties of dark matter.

Edward O’BrienEdward O’Brien, associate professor of chemistry, has been named a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology. O’Brien focuses on understanding, modeling, and predicting the behavior of macromolecules inside of cells through the development of theoretical and computational tools rooted in the fields of chemistry, physics, and computer science.

Yakov PesinYakov Pesin, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and co-director of the Anatole Katok Center for Dynamical Systems and Geometry, has been elected as a foreign member of the Academy of Europe, a non-governmental association with the goal of advancing and propagating scholarship in the humanities; law; the economic, social, and political sciences; mathematics; medicine; and all branches of natural and technological sciences. Pesin’s primary areas of research are the theory of dynamical systems with an emphasis on smooth ergodic theory, dimension theory in dynamical systems, and Riemannian geometry, as well as mathematical and statistical physics.

B.S. SathyaprakashB.S. Sathyaprakash, Eisbach Professor of Physics and professor of astronomy and astrophysics, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society for his leadership in and wide- ranging contributions to gravitational wave science. The society is the largest physics organization in the world and publishes a wide range of research journals. Sathyaprakash currently focuses his research on understanding the sources of gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime, detected for the first time in 2016, 100 years after they were predicted to exist by Einstein.

Stephen SchaefferStephen Schaeffer, professor of biology, has been named a recipient of the inaugural Eberly College of Science Distinguished Faculty Mentoring Award, which was created in 2019 to honor faculty members in the college for their outstanding work in mentoring both students and faculty. The award recognizes his impressive record of student and faculty mentoring and his leadership in implementing programs that have directly benefited graduate students in the college, including the monthly Biology Graduate Student Colloquium.

Scott ShowalterScott Showalter, professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been named a recipient of the inaugural Eberly College of Science Distinguished Faculty Mentoring Award, which was created in 2019 to honor faculty members in the college for their outstanding work in mentoring both students and faculty. The award recognizes his long-standing dedication to helping students and colleagues reach their full potential as scientists, leaders, and professionals, including by creating the Chemistry Graduate Student Association.

Lauren ZarzarLauren Zarzar, assistant professor of chemistry, has been selected to receive a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which supports the research of innovative early career scientists, and the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award from the Penn State Materials Research Institute, which recognizes interdisciplinary materials research at Penn State that yields innovative and unexpected results. She has also been recognized as one of the 2019 Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) Talented 12, which celebrates young chemists just beginning to put their innovative and transformative ideas into practice. Zarzar’s research focuses on how complex fluids—such as droplets of two or more encapsulated oils— can be manipulated.

Xin ZhangXin Zhang, Holder of the Paul Berg Early Career Professorship and assistant professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been selected as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The award provides funding to promising scientists whose research advances human health and addresses some of biomedicine’s most challenging questions. Zhang studies how stresses can alter the ways in which proteins fold within live cells, and his lab has developed chemical tools to visualize this process.