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UT Austin Physicist Wins Presidential Early Career Award

UT Austin Physicist Wins Presidential Early Career Award

The University of Texas at Austin's Keji Lai has been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the United States government's highest honor for scientists and engineers in the early stages of research.

Lai is among 106 recipients announced by the White House on Thursday. The winners, who will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., this spring, were selected for having research that is both innovative and beneficial to society.

Keji Lai is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Natural Sciences. He researches nanoscale electronic properties in advanced quantum materials such as transition metal oxides, topological matters and organic semiconductors. His work has applications for energy-harvesting devices, photonics and electronics, and it has been noted for its potential to significantly advance future computing devices. Lai pioneered the development of a commercially available microwave imaging technique.

Lai was the 2015 winner of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics' C10 Young Scientist Prize in the Structure and Dynamics of Condensed Matter. He also received an Early Career Award in 2013 from the Department of Energy.

Lai and engineer Deji Akinwande were the two faculty members at UT Austin singled out for awards.

"These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness," President Barack Obama said. "We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people."

Now in its 20th year, the Presidential Early Career Awards are coordinated through the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy, which selects winners "for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach."

Akinwande was nominated by the Department of Defense and Lai by the Department of Energy for their research accomplishments.

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Wednesday, 28 October 2020

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