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  • Axel Cruau, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, Michael Roukes, and Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau
06/28/2013 14:12:15

Michael Roukes Honored by the French Republic

The French Republic honored Michael Roukes, Robert M. Abbey Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight of the Order of Academic Palms).

Roukes received his medal and diploma in a luncheon ceremony June 11 on the Caltech campus. Attending the ceremony were representatives from the French government, including Axel Cruau, French consul general in Los Angeles, who presented Roukes with the award; Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau; and Roukes's family and Institute colleagues.

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte established the Palmes Académiques awards in 1808 to honor faculty from the University of Paris. During the following two centuries, the French Republic extended eligibility for the award to include other citizens and foreigners who have made significant contributions to French education and culture. There are three grades of Palmes Académiques medals: commandeur, officier, and chevalier.

"I am honored to receive the Order of Academic Palms from the French Republic," Roukes says. "Through the cooperation and collaboration we have fostered, French and American scientists greatly increase their chances of making new discoveries that benefit both nations."

Roukes, who came to Caltech in 1992, is an expert in the field of quantum measurement and applied biotechnology. He was the founding director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech from 2004–2006 and codirector from 2008 to 2013. He has led numerous cross-disciplinary collaborations at Caltech and with researchers from other institutions that explore the frontiers of nanoscience. In 2010, Roukes received the Director's Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health for his work developing nanoscale tools for use in medical research.

In his presentation remarks, Cruau cited Roukes's collaborations with French research institutions, in particular the Laboratoire d'Electronique et des Technologies de l'Information (LETI) in Grenoble, France. Roukes and LETI CEO Laurent Malier cofounded the Alliance for Nanosystems VLSI, which focuses on creating complex nanosystems-based tools for science and industry. Cruau also noted Roukes's instrumental role in helping to start the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, Initiative, a national program proposed by President Barack Obama to build a comprehensive map of activity in the human brain.

Other Palmes Académiques recipients at Caltech are Ares J. Rosakis, von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and professor of mechanical engineering, and chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, who was named a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2012, and Guruswami Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and professor of mechanical engineering, and director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories, who received a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2011.

Written by Brian Bell