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Professor Kim Lewis Receives NSF CAREER Award

Wed, 2012-02-01 00:00 -- katzme

Young Physicist To Investigate Electronics at the Molecular Level

February 1, 2012

Kim Lewis, assistant professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has won a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Lewis will use the five-year, approximately $575,000 award to study electronics at the molecular level. The research seeks to better understand how molecules are transported through advanced electronic systems.

“I congratulate Dr. Lewis on this exceptional achievement, the first-ever NSF CAREER Award in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer” said Laurie Leshin, dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer. “This award will continue to enable the innovative nanoscience research and outstanding educational opportunities that Dr. Lewis has been deeply committed to since she joined Rensselaer. This recognition is clearly well deserved.”

Lewis’ CAREER program, titled “From Self-Assembled Monolayers to Molecular Multilayers: The Electronic Properties of Molecular Junctions,” holds promise to stimulate the advancement of electronics used in areas as diverse as medicine and toxic sensing technology. Lewis’ goal is to better understand and improve the movement of molecules through electronic systems. Such knowledge would increase the functionality and efficiency of new devices.

Along with educating undergraduates and graduate students in the areas of molecular and nano electronics and advanced atomic force microscopy, Lewis will use this funding to cultivate broader participation by underrepresented groups in science. Lewis will develop an educational summer program for students from historically black colleges and universities to participate in leading-edge research at Rensselaer.

Lewis joined Rensselaer in 2006 from Louisiana State University, where she served as a postdoctoral researcher. Lewis holds a patent for a unique charge transformer technology and has published multiple articles on her research. She has received several fellowships and awards for her research achievements, including the Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship, the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, and a Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship. She  also has been a leader in efforts to broaden participation of groups underrepresented in science in the STEM fields. She is currently the director of the New Orleans Louisiana Minority Opportunities via Educational Research in Sciences, or NOLA MOVERS program, as well as director of a new program focused on aiding students who are having trouble deciding on a science major at Rensselaer.

She received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Dillard University, her master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, and her doctoral degree in applied physics also from the University of Michigan.

The CAREER Award is given to faculty members near the beginning of their academic careers and is one of the most competitive awards give by the NSF, placing emphasis on high-quality research and novel educational initiatives.

For additional information on Lewis’ research at Rensselaer, visit:

Contact: Mary L. Martialay
Phone: (518) 276-2146
E-mail: martim12@rpi.edu