Two assistant professors in the Caltech Division of Engineering and Applied Science have been selected to receive the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award starting this year.
Victoria Kostina, assistant professor of electrical engineering, received the award for her project, "Information Theory of Dynamical Systems," while Marco Bernardi, assistant professor of applied physics and materials science, received the award for his project, "First-Principles Electron and Spin Dynamics in Materials with Spin-Orbit Coupling."
Kostina's project aims to improve models of communications in the rising internet of things—the ever more intelligent and interconnected devices that populate everyday life for most individuals. "Classical information theory lacks ready solutions to the new challenges of the era of massive, dynamic connectivity," Kostina says.
Bernardi's project seeks to develop a computational methodology for investigating and understanding the motion of electrons in materials, particularly with respect to a property known as "spin." In quantum mechanics, spin is a form of angular momentum inherent to elementary particles that has bearing on the properties of materials created from those particles. "We hope to develop a microscopic understanding of materials with yet untapped potential for new technology, including novel metals and ultrathin semiconductors containing heavy atoms," Bernardi says.
CAREER awards, the NSF's most prestigious awards for junior faculty members, are designed to enable awardees to develop careers as outstanding teacher-scholars. Awardees are chosen because they exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.