University of Rochester

Three Scientists Win National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

August 5, 2009

The National Science Foundation has offered three of its prestigious CAREER awards to faculty members at the University of Rochester. The CAREER award is given to promising scientists early in their careers and is selected on the basis of creative proposals that effectively integrate research and education. Each grant provides funding over a five-year period to help the awardees develop their research.

David W. McCamant, assistant professor of chemistry, won his CAREER award for his work that, among other things, is focused on understanding the damage DNA can suffer from ultraviolet radiation. McCamant also hopes to use the funding to create new undergraduate and graduate coursework to teach valuable skills in physical chemistry, optics, electronics and the integration of these fields, which he hopes the students will carry forward into their scientific careers.

"David is one of our rising stars," says Robert Boeckman, chair of the Department of Chemistry. "He is performing exciting research and has great skills as a mentor and teacher. These skills will prove to be invaluable as he continues to push his research in groundbreaking directions. My colleagues and I expect great things from him."

McCamant came to Rochester in 2006 as an experimentalist in the field of ultrafast spectroscopy. Upon completion of his bachelors degree at Wesleyan University in 1995, he was employed as a research technician at Eastman Kodak Company. In 2004, he earned his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and conducted two years of postdoctoral research at Northwestern University. McCamant's award totals $678,000 over the next five years.

Andrew Jordan, assistant professor of physics, has received $425,000 to further study how quantum mechanical systems become entangled—a strange property of two or more objects where one object can no longer be adequately described without full mention of its counterpart—even if the individual objects are spatially separated by millions of miles. This interconnection leads to correlations between observable physical properties of these remote systems, which cannot be described with classical physics of any kind. Jordan investigates how it might be possible to monitor and control quantum states, such as entanglement, to provide new insights into the functioning of the quantum world, and to possibly better manipulate quantum information for use in future computers or telecommunication.

"Andrew is a young physicist of unusually broad interests and talents," says Nicholas Bigelow, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "He's a most impressive young physics leader, able to work on both condensed matter and quantum optics—two sides of a line that was rarely crossed even by experts in the past."

Jordan obtained his bachelors degree from Texas A&M in 1997 and his doctorate from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2002. Jordan joined the University of Rochester in 2006.

Mathews Jacob, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, won his award to fund his research into the design of computer programs that accelerate the capture of high-resolution images, and that promise to enable early diagnosis of cancer in particular. His team's goal is to help realize the potential of imaging technologies like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and to make sought-after clinical applications possible for the first time. Jacob will recieve $399,600 over the next five years.

"It is great to see the quality of Mathews' work recognized in this way," says Richard Waugh, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rochester. "These awards are the gold standard for identifying top young faculty in engineering fields and it is a great honor to be selected."