NEW YORK, April 21, 2006 -- Eight professors and scientists conducting research in photonics-related areas have been named fellows of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and each will receive a grant averaging $38,000 to support his work, the foundation announced earlier this month.
The New York-based Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was established in 1925 by US Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife as a memorial to their son. For the past 82 years, the foundation has offered fellowships in the US and Canada to assist scholars and artists financially while they engage in research. Well-known past fellows include Ansel Adams, Aaron Copland, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Linus Pauling, Martha Graham, Philip Roth, Wendy Wasserstein and Eudora Welty, among others.
This year the foundation selected 187 artists, scholars and scientists from among 3000 applicants for awards totaling $7.5 million. The amounts of the grants vary, depending on the fellows' needs, their other financial resources and the purpose and scope of their plans, according to the foundation. In 2005, the average grant was $38,236.
Only two Guggenheim Fellowships were presented to engineers this year. Jia-Ming Liu, professor of electrical engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, said he will use his grant to conduct research on three-dimensional intracellular laser nanoscopy -- using lasers to see structures inside a cell with a resolution on the nanometer scale. Liu said his work will ultimately allow biologists and doctors to pinpoint the location of various molecular cell components made of genes and their products on the subcellular level, and to better understand cell function in health and disease. Liu's past research has focused on ultrafast optics and electronics, optoelectronics and semiconductor lasers, nonlinear optics and optical-wave propagation. He holds several patents in lasers and optoelectronics and is internationally recognized as an expert in ultrafast lasers and nonlinear laser dynamics.
The second engineer to win a fellowship is Shuguang Zhang, associate director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research involves a biosolar nanodevice for direct harvest of solar energy.
Michael Dine, professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said he plans to use his $32,000 fellowship to support his work during the 2006-07 academic year, when he will be on sabbatical. A theoretical physicist, Dine will spend part of the year at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara, where he is coorganizing a fall workshop on string phenomenology. The rest of the year he will spend at the Institute for Advanced Study, an independent academic institution in Princeton, N.J.
The focus of Dine's work will be to prepare for interpreting new experimental results expected from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), an international facility now under construction in Geneva, Switzerland, which is scheduled to begin operation in 2007. The LHC will be the highest-energy instrument for particle physics research in the world, and physicists hope it will help them resolve many unanswered questions about the physics of elementary particles. "There are good reasons to think that the LHC will produce major discoveries," Dine said.
Dine has made contributions in the areas of supersymmetry, string theory and others to develop a "new physics" beyond the standard model of particle physics. Ideas developed by Dine and others have led to predictions that will be tested for the first time in experiments conducted at the LHC. Dine is engaged in a number of projects exploring the experimental possibilities for the LHC.
The only astronomer to receive a fellowship this year is University of Arizona astronomy professor Dennis Zaritsky of the Steward Observatory. He is developing new techniques to study astronomical images for information on the evolution of nearby galaxies and the nature of dark matter. Rather than treating individual stars and galaxies as separate objects, he analyzes all of the light across an astronomical image, including what appears as blank sky.
"The idea for analyzing images this way has germinated for several years in different contexts," Zaritsky said. "However, the survey my collaborators and I did for distant galaxy clusters certainly showed me the importance of digging in the background sky for signal." Zaritsky said he will use his $38,000 fellowship while on sabbatical next year. His research interests span a wide range of topics, mainly in extragalactic observational astronomy.
Zaritsky's research includes the first measurement of dark matter masses of isolated galaxies to their outermost edge; the standard reference for chemical abundance patterns in galaxies; the first spatially complete, digital stellar census of the Magellanic Clouds (the Milky Way's largest satellite galaxies); the largest published survey of galaxy clusters at redshifts greater than 0.5; and the discovery of an underlying relationship describing the structure of all spheroid galaxies. Zaritsky has published more than 75 articles and has analyzed observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope, the XMM-Newton Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Dartmouth College associate professor of computer science Hany Farid's award will support his work in digital image forensics. Farid's work examines the mathematics and statistics behind digital media, including images, audio recordings and video. He has developed algorithms that can determine whether digital media have been altered or manipulated, which can be applied to questions in court cases of scientific legitimacy, and in art authentication. He said he is also interested in the digital reconstruction of ancient Egyptian tombs, where he creates undistorted panoramic views of tomb interiors. In addition to publishing dozens of academic papers, he often testifies in cases questioning the veracity of digital photos.
"I've always been interested in thinking about different ways of representing, analyzing and visualizing digital images, and most recently in developing techniques to expose digital tampering," says Farid. "Digital forensics is a rapidly evolving field, and it's exciting to be in at the beginning."
Other researchers receiving fellowships for photonics-related work this year are: David W. Christianson, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Professor in Chemistry and Chemical Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, who will use his grant for research into complexes between biological macromolecules and nonbiological nanomolecules; chemistry professor Norbert F. Scherer of the James Franck Institute and Institute for Biophysical Dynamics at the University of Chicago, who is working on long-range electron transfer processes in single proteins; and senior scientist Carl Haber, Physics Div., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is researching optical methods to recover sound from mechanical recordings.
For more information, visit: www.gf.org