Science awards go to UChicago physics professor, alumnus

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

David Schuster, assistant professor in physics, has received the 2011 William L. McMillan Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) 2011 Young Faculty Award.

UChicago physics alumnus Sriram Ramaswamy, PhD’83, will collect another prize on Jan. 9 in Bangalore, India, the 2011 Infosys Prize for physical sciences. As one of six recipients of the prize, Ramaswamy, a professor of physics at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, will receive approximately $100,000 and a 22-karat gold medallion.

The Infosys Science Foundation presents the prize to recognize outstanding research contributions in engineering and computer science, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physical sciences and social sciences. Receiving the 2011 Infosys Prize for economics will be Chicago Booth Prof. Raghuram Rajan.

Ramaswamy will be honored for his pioneering work in the field of active matter, in which he is uncovering the strange laws that govern the collective behavior of active particles at a variety of scales, from cellular proteins to schools of fish.

The McMillan Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a young researcher in condensed-matter physics (the physics of liquids and solids). Schuster was cited for his pioneering contributions to the new field of circuit quantum electrodynamics, particularly for his experiments that couple microwaves to spin ensembles and to superconducting qubits. 

Schuster, who joined the Chicago faculty in 2010, bases his work upon an entirely new paradigm of computation aimed at exponentially or dramatically speeding up various types of computation.

UIUC established the McMillan Award in 1986 to honor the memory of Bill McMillan, a member of its physics department from 1972 until his death in 1984. The first McMillan Award recipient was UChicago Provost Thomas Rosenbaum, the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor in Physics.

Schuster was among 39 recipients selected last year from more than 400 applicants to receive DARPA Young Faculty Award grants of approximately $300,000. The long-term goal of this grant program is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers and mathematicians in key disciplines who will focus a significant portion of their careers on Department of Defense and national security issues.