Four Princeton professors honored by American Physical Society

Oct. 22, 2009, 10:18 a.m.

Four Princeton professors have been recognized with awards from the American Physical Society.

Paul Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor in Science and a professor of physics, won the 2010 Oliver Buckley Condensed Matter Prize. Michael Aizenman, a professor of physics and mathematics, was awarded the 2010 Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics. Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, an associate professor of chemical engineering, was named as the recipient of the 2010 John H. Dillon Medal. Frans Pretorius, an assistant professor of physics, received the 2010 Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics.

The awarding committee cited Steinhardt's "pioneering contributions" to the theory of quasicrystals. He shared the award with Alan Mackay of Birbeck College and Dov Levine of Technion, who also have worked in the area of quasicrystals.

Steinhardt and Levine were among the first to introduce the concept of quasicrystals, and Steinhardt has continued to make contributions to understanding them in his work in condensed matter physics, including editing two books on the subject. Steinhardt, who joined the Princeton faculty in 1998, is also the director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science.

Aizenman was cited for "his development of the random current approach to correlations," especially his proof of the triviality of "phi^4" field theory. This work, conducted in the early 1980s, was aimed at clarifying the detailed structure of the critical behavior observed at phase transitions and at addressing the issues of constructive quantum field theory, for which he proved that the simplest mathematical model would not suffice.

Aizenman was a research associate and assistant professor at Princeton from 1975 to 1982 and returned to the University as a professor in 1990. He has received many accolades, including being the subject of a conference and an honorary degree recipient for his more recent work on conduction in random media by Université de Cergy-Pontoise (France) this past January.

Loo's award was for "insightful experiments connecting structure with performance in conducting polymers, organic electronics and functional block copolymers," according to the award committee's citation.

Loo, who received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Princeton in 2001, returned to the University in 2007. She has won numerous awards and accolades, including a Sloan Research Fellowship in 2008 and being named one of the world's top 100 young innovators by the MIT Technology Review in 2004.

The society acknowledged Pretorius for his "computational solution of a fundamental problem in Einstein's theory of general relativity, the collision of two black holes, with implications for fundamental physics, astrophysics and gravitational wave observations." Pretorius came to the University in 2007 and received a Sloan Research Fellowship later that year.