Maybe it’s the beach or the mountains – or the researchers – but the Germans seem to love UCSB.
Atac Imamoglu, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept. and the Physics Dept., received the Wolfgang Paul Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany on Nov. 6. Included in the award is a $2 million grant for research purposes. This is the second prestigious award conferred on UCSB this year by a German institution, after the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit was given by the German government to Nobel laureate Herbert Kroemer.
According to Imamoglu, who was given the award to further his research in quantum computing and single photon emission, this is the first time the Humboldt Foundation has given an award to a researcher in his field.
“The idea behind it is to attract people from outside of Germany to Germany for a limited period of time, give them ample resources, and hope that they will start an activity in this field of research that the Humboldt Foundation thinks Germany lacks and to train young researchers,” he said. “Basically, it’s to seed research in a new field within Germany.”
The grant itself comes with very few restrictions, stipulating only that the money be spent in Germany in order to benefit German research.
“They are telling me I can spend it any which way I want,” said Imamoglu. “I can bring over students or postdocs from here. I can use it to support people or to buy equipment.”
Hua Lee, the chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept., said the award is one of the most prestigious given to researchers.
“It is given only to top scientists,” he said. “Atac is one of the most brilliant young minds we have. The future of this department is built upon our young and dynamic faculty members.”
The goals and the effort of the Humboldt Foundation are admirable, Lee said.
“It is amazing that the people of the Humboldt Foundation have this kind of commitment to science,” he said.
Professor Galen Stucky, in the Chemistry Dept., was also awarded by the Humboldt Foundation two years ago for his research in fuel alternatives, particularly natural gas. According to him, the award itself is very informal.
“I have a research group here and I don’t want to be gone from them too long, so I suspect I’ll be going to Germany in short segments,” he said. “I haven’t even gone through the ceremony yet.”
The ceremony is very open, Stucky said.
“They have a ceremony every year for the induction of awardees, but when I start my fellowship; that’s up to me. At some point I’ll arrange to be in Germany during the ceremony.”
According to Stucky, it’s not only Germany getting a boost in scientific research.
“The other side is, there have been quite a few students from Germany who have come over here to work with me and that’s very good,” he said. “They’re trained differently and they have very good technical skills, and they can help students from the United States use those skills.”
For UCSB, the benefits from the awards are mostly in an increase in prestige, said Imamoglu.
“I think it increases the visibility of UCSB,” he said. “The biggest benefit is that it’s one of 14 institutes across the world that was chosen.”