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Two Weinberg Professors Receive Navy Young Investigator Award

Harel and Stern are two of 47 recipients nationwide honored by Office of Naval Research
  • Elad Harel is developing powerful optical methods for energy sciences
  • Nathaniel Stern is using light to study quantum physics in nanomaterials
  • Typical Young Investigator Program grants are $510,000 over three-year period
  • Program recognizes early-career academic researchers whose work is exceptionally creative

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University professors Elad Harel and Nathaniel Stern have been selected to receive the prestigious 2016 Young Investigator Awards from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). They are two of 47 scientists from across the nation honored this year by ONR for their exceptionally creative research.

Typical grants through the Young Investigator Program are $510,000 over a three-year period with additional funding available for equipment. The funding supports laboratory equipment, graduate student stipends and scholarships and other expenses critical to ongoing and planned investigational studies. 

The program is one of the oldest and most selective scientific research advancement programs in the country. Its purpose is to fund early-career academic researchers whose scientific pursuits show outstanding promise for supporting the U.S. Department of Defense, while also promoting their professional development.

Elad Harel

Harel, an assistant professor of chemistry in Weinberg, received the honor for his proposal, “Ultrasensitive Multi-Octave and Multi-dimensional Spectral Sensing by Single Element Detection and Compressive Sensing.”

Harel focuses on highly interdisciplinary research crossing boundaries into biology, materials chemistry, mathematics and engineering. He is a recognized leader in the field of spectroscopy and imaging of condensed phase chemical and biological systems. Harel’s work in magnetic resonance and optics has enabled him to develop new methods that allow deep insights into how energy flows in materials at the extremes of time and space.  

Last month, Harel received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers -- the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Nathaniel Stern 

Stern, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, was named to the program for his proposal, “Multi-Dimensional Control in Laterally Confined Atomically Thin Nanostructures.”

Stern’s research focuses on developing methods to use light to study the unique properties of nanoscale systems that emerge from quantum physics. When materials are reduced to their fundamental size limits, new and often counter-intuitive behaviors appear that can be probed and manipulated with high precision using light. Stern’s work will investigate new methods for controlling the dimensionality of nanomaterials barely a single atom thick, which can impact electronic and information technology applications.

Among other honors, Stern was selected in 2014 by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science to receive significant research funding as part of the DOE’s highly selective Early Career Research Program.