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Awards Print

Recent awards given to ALS staff and users in recognition of their scientific and technical achievements.

ALS users and staff are invited to send us information about recent awards by completing this form or by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .





berrahLongtime ALS user Nora Berrah was recently awarded the 2014 Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics from the APS. Berrah, currently the Chair of the Physics Department at University of Connecticut, was cited  "For pioneering experiments on the interaction of atoms, molecules, negative ions and clusters with ionizing vacuum ultraviolet and soft x-ray photons."

Aside from being a busy user at the ALS for many years, Nora has also been active in the ALS community as chair of the UEC and member of the SAC.

Read more about her research on the APS web site.


Dr. Debajeet K. Bora, a recent physicist post-doctoral fellow  with Jinghua Guo at the ALS has been awarded the “EMPA Research Award 2013” for his PhD thesis “Hematite and its hybrid nanostructures for photoelectrochemical water splitting: How do properties affect functionality?” by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Switzerland. Dr. Bora carried out his dissertation research jointly with EMPA and University of Basel.

As a PhD student, Debajeet conducted a pioneering in situ solar water splitting experiment at ALS Beamline 7. This work  contributed to his winning this award which is given every two years.






Charles  S. Fadley (right, pictured with Joseph Nordgren), a longtime ALS user, recently received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden. Fadley was recognized for his research on condensed matter, materials, and surface/interface physics, as well as molecular physics. His work, especially synchrotron-light-based spectroscopic studies of surfaces, magnetic materials, and nanostructures, has inspired researchers around the world and at Uppsala. read more about Fadley and other awardees here.




December 2013/January 2014


Two members of the ALS community were elected APS Fellows in 2013:

Fernando Sannibale of the Accelerator Fusion Research Division was nominated for "contributions to the understanding of coherent synchrotron radiation in storage rings and the development of high brightness electron beam sources."

Robert (Bob) Schoenlein of the Material Sciences Division was recognized for his "seminal contributions to ultrafast science using lasers and synchrotron radiation."








Any active APS member is eligible for nomination and election to Fellowship. The criterion for election is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers. More about these and other Berkeley Lab APS Fellows can be found on the
APS Web site.


Howard Padmore, group leader of the Experimental Systems Group at the Advanced Light Source, won the Albert Nerkin Award of the AVS. Padmore was recognized for “sustained contributions to the design, development and application of novel synchrotron x-ray instrumentation used to study a range of scientific problems from biology to materials and solid state science.” The AVS is the primary society in the United States that focuses on vacuum technology and its impacts on various industries.





ALS user Stephen P. Cramer, Physical Biosciences Division, who was recognized for the development and creative applications of synchrotron x-ray spectroscopy to bioinorganic chemistry. Ten researchers from labs which the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science stewards were recently elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The honor recognizes individuals "Who have made scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications." The new fellows were formally announced in the journal Science on Nov. 29th, and they will also be recognized at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.



In September, Shuyun Zhou, a previous ALS postdoctoral fellow, received “Outstanding Young Scholar Award” from Qiu Shi Science and Technology Foundation. Shuyun Zhou is currently an associate professor at the Department of Physics at Tsinghua University, Beijing. Before returning to her home university in 2012, she had built her track record from 10 years of research conducted at the ALS, initially as a Ph.D. student of UC Berkeley and ALS doctoral fellow, later as ALS postdoc fellow and project scientist from Materials Sciences Division. Her major achievements include electronic structure studies of graphene using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, and ultrafast dynamic studies of localized electronic orderings in quantum materials using ultrafast time-resolved resonant X-ray scattering. While building her lab-based ultrafast time- and angle-resolved photoemission program at Tsinghua University, she has continued close collaboration with the ALS and recent progress has been made on the intriguing coupling between a topological insulator and a high temperature superconductor.

The Qiu Shi Science & Technologies Foundation was established by Mr. Cha Chi Ming in 1994 to promote scientific and technological progress in China by recognizing and rewarding successful Chinese scientists and scholars. The 2013 New Outstanding Young Scholar award is presented to 9 young scientists from 5 top research universities who have shown exceptional promise in both natural and applied sciences. Multidisciplinary, novel and innovative approaches to research and risk-taking is encouraged.




Sandia National Laboratories combustion chemist and veteran ALS user Craig Taatjes, whose groundbreaking work on Criegee intermediates has provided scientific insight into hydrocarbon combustion and atmospheric chemistry, has been selected to receive the prestigious Polanyi Medal by the International Symposium on Gas Kinetics.

During his career at Sandia, Taatjes has carried out research aimed at understanding the fundamental chemistry of combustion and hydrocarbon oxidation, including flame measurements and the reactions that govern low-temperature autoignition. Recently, he led a project that made the first direct measurements of the reactions of Criegee intermediates, formed in ozone-initiated oxidation of hydrocarbons, showing that their impact on tropospheric chemistry and climate may be substantially greater than previously assumed. Through funding by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Taatjes and his research team conducted studies of gas phase Criegee intermediates using Sandia’s multiplexed photoionization mass spectrometer (MPIMS) at the Advanced Light Source, a scientific user facility also supported by the DOE.

The Polanyi Medal is awarded every two years. The recipient is chosen by the Committee of the Gas Kinetics Group of the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and is someone who has made outstanding contributions to the field of gas kinetics. The Polanyi medal is named after professor Michael Polanyi, 1891-1976, whose research helped to define the modern subject of gas kinetics and reaction dynamics.



Peter Fischer, staff scientist and principal investigator at the Center for X-ray Optics in the Materials Sciences Division and beamline scientist in charge of the full-field soft x-ray microscope (BL 6.1.2) at the Advanced Light Source has been named an IEEE Fellow in 2014 for his “contributions to the development and application of high resolution X-ray magnetic imaging”.

Using polarized soft x-rays for imaging magnetic structures has over the last years matured into an indispensable characterization tool for magnetism research and numerous groups from around the world come to LBNL each year to use the unique instruments here.  Peter is recognized by the worldwide magnetism community as one of thir leading experts in this research area. Peter and his team at LBNL have demonstrated world record spatial resolution with x-ray lenses fabricated in the Center for X-ray Optics for which he was a co-awarded the Klaus Halbach Prize in 2010. He was selected as Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Magnetics Society in 2011, where he delivered in more than 60 lectures his work on magnetic x-ray imaging at LBNL to the worldwide magnetism community.

The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association with more than 425,000 members in over 160 countries. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.




Robert O. Ritchie of the Materials Sciences Division has been awarded the 2013 David Turnbull Lectureship by the Materials Research Society (MRS). He was cited for his pioneering work elucidating “the mechanistic role of microstructure in governing fatigue and fracture in a variety of materials systems,” as well as for communicating his scientific insights through eloquent lectures and seminal publications. He will present the Turnbull Lecture at the MRS Fall Meeting in Boston.





wanliWanli Yang, an ALS staff scientist, was part of a team of Berkeley Lab researchers who won an R&D 100 Award for their invention of a new material for use in rechargeable batteries. Termed the Conducting Polymer Binder, the material can boost battery storage capacity by 30% and is made from a type of flexible plastic glue that holds electrode materials together while facilitating the shuttling of electrons and positively charged lithium ions. The team also included Berkely Lab scientists Gao Liu, Lin-Wang Wang, and Vincent Battaglia and postdoctoral fellows Sang-Jae Park, Mingyan Wu, and Shidi Xun.



Physicist Feng Wang (Materials Sciences) has been named a Bakar Fellow, a UC Berkeley program to support innovative research by early career faculty, in particular those who want to focus on a project that has real-world applications in areas ranging from health care and agriculture to high-tech and biotech. The program provides five years of research support and is now in its second year. Feng Wang, a UC Berkeley professor, most recently worked on ALS Beamline 1.4.





Alexander Gray, a member of Chuck Fadley's group at the ALS, won a 2013 Young Scientist Award from the user community organization of the SPring8 synchrotron radiation facility in Hyogo, Japan. The SPring-8 user community recognized Gray for his original application of HARPES--Hard X-Ray Angle-Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy--to resolve a long-standing controversy concerning the electronic structure of dilute magnetic structure materials. Gray will receive his award at a ceremony in Kyoto in early September.




ALS Staff Scientist Alexander Hexemer has received an Early Career Research Program Award to create a "High Performance Toolkit for Photon Science." The effort is designed to bolster the nation's scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. Find more information on the Office of Science Early Career Research Program Web site.





Hendrik Bluhm of the Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division is the recipient of the Friedrichh Wilhelm Bessel Research award, bestowed by Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Award winners are honored for their outstanding research record and invited to spend a period of up to one year cooperating on a long-term research project with specialist colleagues at a research institution in Germany. Bluhm works on ALS Beamline 11.0.2 , investigating solid/vapor and liquid/vapor interfaces under realistic conditions of pressure and temperature, using photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning probe microscopy.




The 2014 Acta Materialia Gold Medal Award will go to Robert Ritchie of the Lab’s Materials Sciences Division. The award, sponsored by the publishing company Elsevier, includes a cash honorarium for $5,000 and is considered one of the most prestigious prizes in the field. Along with fellow MSD researcher Tony Tomsia, Ritchie has recently developed a lightweight ceramic material with an unprecedented combination of strength and toughness by mimicking the structure of abalone shells.





Gabor Somorjai of the Materials Sciences Division was one of 18 individuals recognized by the National Academy of Sciences for outstanding scientific achievement in the physical, biological and social sciences. Somorjai, who is also a professor in the UC Berkeley Chemistry Department, received the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences for his “groundbreaking experimental and conceptual contributions to the understanding of surface chemistry and catalysis at a microscopic and molecular level.” Supported by the Merck Company Foundation, the award and $15,000 prize honors innovative research that contributes to a better understanding of the natural chemical sciences and to the benefit of humanity. Read more...







This year’s American Physical Society (APS) Fellows include six scientists from Berkeley Lab, three of whom are currently or have previously been at the ALS: John Byrd, Howard Padmore, and Dave Robin. Only half of one percent of APS members are elected by their peers to be Fellows in any given year for exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise, including outstanding research, important applications, leadership or service to physics, and significant contributions to physics education. Berkeley Lab’s six Fellows (out of 250 announced for 2012) represent a high count for a single institution. See our feature Six Berkeley Lab (Three ALS) Scientists Are 2012 APS Fellows or read the Berkeley Lab News Release for more information.



See the full write up on our User Meeting Awards recipients.



R&D 100 Award for the Development of the Compact Variable Collimator

r&D 100-mortonA team led by Simon Morton and Jeff Dickert of Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division has been awarded an R&D 100 Award for the development of the Compact Variable Collimator (CVC). The CVC, installed at the ALS  Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BCSB) beamlines, is small, easy to use and readily adapted to any configuration of an x-ray beamline where it allows researchers to quickly and accurately adjust X-ray beams for protein crystallography, x-ray microscopy and small angle x-ray scattering to optimize resolution. This optimized resolution allows researchers to extract the highest quality data from less-than-perfect protein crystals rather than discard crystals with defects and spend time and money preparing new ones. The CVC has already been used to make critical discoveries in areas that include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, Lassa fever, antibiotic resistance and food crop improvements. Co-nominating the CVC with Berkeley Lab were Takeda Pharmaceutical and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation.


Two ALS Users Win DOE Early Career Research Award

wilson-doe awardKevin Wilson, Beamline Scientist on the Chemical Dynamics Beamline 9.0.2, has been granted an Early Career Research award by the DOE’s Office of Science. Wilson’s work focuses on hydrocarbon free radicals formed at hydrocarbon/water and electrolyte interfaces. He plans to use his research award to study the roles they play in chemistry as initiators or propagators of surface reactions or as reactive intermediates.


gessnerBerkeley Lab Scientist and ALS user Oliver Gessner is another recipient of the Early Career Research award by the DOE’s Office of Science. Gessner, who is associated with the Chemical Sciences Division, will use his award to study the role that chemically engineered devices play in the development of sustainable energy production and storage solutions. He’ll employ experimental techniques using intense, ultrashort x‐ray pulses to monitor the light‐induced creation and transport of charges in complex molecular systems in real time and from the perspective of specific atomic sites.


ALS EH&S Program Manager Jim Floyd is a recipient of the Director's Award for Exceptional Achievement in Safety. The award, announced in Today at Berkeley Lab on May 21, is for, "Accomplishments and leadership in promoting a safety culture."






Peidong Yang, an ALS user from the LBNL Materials Sciences Division, was elected to the 2012 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Yang, a chemist whose research focuses on the synthesis of new classes of materials and nanostructures, is expert on nanowires and has found ways to use them for photovoltaics and as a thermoelectric material. He is director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP)-North and earlier this year, Yang was named by Thomson Reuters as the world’s top materials scientist of the past decade and the tenth most influential chemist, based on an analysis of the citation impact of published papers.


ALS user James Berger of the Physical Biosciences Division, was also elected to the 2012 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berger is a biochemist and structural biologist who studies protein machines and develops models to explain DNA replication, chromosome superstructure, and other essential nucleic acid transactions. Last year he received the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology “for elucidating the structures of topoisomerases and helicases and providing insights into the biochemical mechanisms that mediate the replication and transcription of DNA.”






ALS user Brandy Toner has been named the National Science Foundation Ridge 2000 Distinguished Lecturer for 2011. Toner, an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, studies the biogeochemical processes that move metals through pristine and contaminated environments. She is particularly interested in the mineralogy and chemistry of hydrothermal plumes. A specialist in synchrotron radiation spectroscopy and diffraction technologies, Dr. Toner is using novel tools to address these questions, leading to exciting discoveries at hydrothermal vent sites around the globe.



Two Berkeley Lab researchers received this year’s Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE): Christian Bauer (not shown, Physics Division) and Feng Wang of the Materials Sciences Division. Wang was previously an ALS doctoral fellow on Beamline 8.0 and is an ALS user on Beamline 1.4 (see ALS Science Highlight Bilayer Graphene Gets a Bandgap and this month's Berkeley Lab News Center article A Whole New Light on Graphene Metamaterials). Wang is cited for “pioneering research on ultrafast optical characterization of carbon nanostructures that has advanced the fundamental understanding of the electronic structure of graphene and is expected to enable the development of advanced-energy-relevant technologies.” PECASE awards are the U.S. government’s highest honors to outstanding scientists and engineers, early in their independent research careers.



xing tuuALS user Ting Xu of the Materials Sciences Division, and assistant professor of materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley, recently received the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. To read more about the award, go here; to read an ALS Science Highlight about her work on Beamline 7.3.3,  see "A New Route to Nano Self-Assembly."






Scott Mullin was awarded the Padden award at the APS meeting in March, 2011, for his contribution of "Electric Field Induced Ordering of Battery Electrolyte" using data from ALS Beamline 7.3.3. Scott is a student of Prof. Nitash Balsara from UC Berkeley, who has been a user at ALS Beamline 7.3.3 from its start and has published many important contributions in polymer related research.




APS Fellows for 2010 were recently announced and many frequent ALS users received the honor, including Harald Ade, Musahid Ahmed, Pupa Gilbert, and Zi Qui. Go here to view the full list of 2010 APS Fellows.





steve leoneSteve Leone, Chemical Sciences Division Director and UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and physics, recently received the 2011 Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics from the American Physical Society "for his pioneering use of soft x-rays in probing ultrafast dynamics in atomic and molecular systems." This prize is made to one person who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of chemical physics or physical chemistry. For more information about Dr. Leone's research activities, view his Web page and the APS prize information .




james bergerJames Berger, of Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley, has won the 2011 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Molecular Biology Award for “elucidating the structures of topoisomerases and helicases and providing insights into the biochemical mechanisms that mediate the replication and transcription of DNA.” This work was featured in ALS Science Highlight Rotary Firing in Ring-Shaped Protein Explains Unidirectionality.  The $25,000 award, sponsored by Pfizer Inc., recognizes recent notable discoveries in molecular biology by a young scientist.




Gabor Samorjai, a senior scientist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and long-time ALS user, has won a "Frontiers of Knowledge Award " from Spain's BBVA Foundation. The Basic Sciences award recognizes Somorjai for “his pioneering contributions to the understanding of surface chemistry and catalysis at a microscopic and molecular level.” It comes with a cash prize of approximately $550,000. See Samorjai's recent Science Highlight Platinum Nanoclusters Out-Perform Single Crystals. A Berkeley Lab News Release about this award is also available here .




Charles Fadley is among the 503 newly-elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). A faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and Distinguished Professor of Physics at UC Davis, Fadley, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of photoelectron spectroscopy, and uses the Advanced Light Source to study systems that are relevant to next-generation magnetic information storage and logic devices. Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers in recognition of meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications. Go here to view a complete list of new fellows.


Musahid Ahmed of the Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division has been elected as a fellow to the American Physical Society. Ahmed was recognized “for his creation of a world-class synchrotron chemical dynamics facility serving the community and his unique marriage of lasers with synchrotron science, used to study small molecule spectroscopy and energetics, biological imaging, combustion, nanoparticle reactivity, and chemical dynamics.”

Other ALS users elected as fellows include Harald Ade, Pupa Gilbert, Zi Q. Qiu, and Craig Taatjes. Go here  to view a full list of 2010 APS fellows.





At the March American Physical Society Meeting (APS) the following scientists, who have performed extensive research at the ALS, were acknowledged for their groundbreaking work:


Alessandra Lanzara, University of California Berkeley and Berkeley Lab: 2010 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award for "High-resolution angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and imaging studies of the cuprate superconductors and graphene that elucidate their electronic properties.





Ramamoorthy Ramesh, University of California, Berkeley: 2010 James C. McGroddy Prize in New Materials for "Groundbreaking contributions in theory and experiment that have advanced the understanding and utility of multiferroic oxides."




feng wang

Feng Wang, University of California, Berkeley: IUPAP Young Scientist Award for "Bilayer graphene: Tunable bandgap and electron-phonon Fano resonances."




rotenbergEli Rotenberg, Berkeley Lab: VUVX (for Vacuum UltraViolet and X-Ray) Conference Award for “his outstanding contributions to angle-resolved photoemission with synchrotron radiation in the study of surfaces and electronic structure.”





Feng Wang, University of California, Berkeley and LBNL: Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Research Program Award Winner for “Control of Graphene Electronic Structure for Energy Technology,” funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Zhi-Xun Shen, Director of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science (SIMES), has been awarded the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award by the U.S. Department of Energy for his pioneering work in materials science. Shen has been a very active user of the ALS and has carried out much of his research at ALS BL 10.0.1.

Shen’s award, announced on December 16, 2009, is "for his ground breaking discoveries and pioneering use of high resolution angle-resolved photoemission to advance understanding of strongly correlated electron systems including high-transition temperature superconductors and other complex oxides." It is one of the highest scientific honors bestowed by the U.S. government.




Eli Rotenberg, The Kai Siegbahn Prize for "The creation and development of the "Electronic Structure Factory" end-station at the Advanced Light Source, which could legitimately be called the most useful ARPES end-station in the World. This endstation has been used to tease out many first results in a wide variety of complex and exotic materials. Eli Rotenberg’s artful application of ARPES has greatly contributed to the understanding of some of the quantum electronic properties of nano-phase and reduced dimensionality materials."

René Bilodeau, Western Michigan University and LBNL: The Yong-Ki Kim Award for Excellence in Research Post Doctoral Award for the paper "Promoting a core electron to fill a d shell: A threshold law and shape and Feshbach resonances."