Physics Professor Awarded Prestigious AAAS Fellowship for Work on Nanomagnetism

Kai Liu in Lab

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November 26, 2019 – Kai Liu, Georgetown professor and McDevitt Chair in the Department of Physics, has been elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science  (AAAS).   

AAAS, formed in 1848, is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals. It has over 120,000 members in more than 91 countries, 264 affiliated societies and academies of science, and serves 10 million individuals globally. Each year AAAS bestows upon a select group of its members across all disciplinary areas the lifetime honor of being an elected Fellow, a tradition dating back to 1874, in recognition of their distinguished achievements in advancing science or its applications.

Liu is being recognized “for distinguished contributions to the field of nanomagnetism and spintronics, particularly for the understanding of magnetic materials and nanostructures.” He is one of 27 members elected from the AAAS Section on Physics this year, which also includes Nobel laureate Arthur McDonald. Liu is one of a few Georgetown professors to have received this honor.

The newly commissioned magnetic property measurement systems (MPMS3) acquired through the NSF-MRI grant.
The newly commissioned magnetic property measurement systems (MPMS3) were acquired through the NSF-MRI grant.

A Great Start at Georgetown

Liu received his Ph.D. in physics in 1998 from the Johns Hopkins University and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of California, San Diego. He joined the University of California, Davis (UCD) faculty in 2001, before transitioning to Georgetown in 2018.

He was the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and a UCD Chancellor’s Fellowship. He is an elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), the American Physical Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He currently serves as the Secretary for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Commission on Magnetism, and as an associate editor for APL Materials.

“We are thrilled that Kai has received this well-deserved honor,” says physics Department Chair Jeffrey Urbach. “Being elected Fellow demonstrates the broad significance and impact of his scholarship over the course of his career.  We are privileged to have him here at Georgetown, and although it has only been two years since he joined us, he has already become an integral part of our community and he and his students and collaborators continue to generate exciting new research findings.”

Since joining Georgetown, Liu has already obtained a few new extramural research grants. He is a theme leader of the newly funded Center for Spintronic Materials in Advanced Information Technologies (SMART).  This major research center, based at the University of Minnesota, focuses on nanoelectronics computing research. Specifically, the center explores spintronic materials, where the spin of an electron may be used for energy-efficient information storage and processing.  Liu is also the Principal Investigator of a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation for the acquisition of a state-of-the-art magnetic characterization instrument, that has helped improve the Georgetown infrastructure for performing cutting-edge magnetics research.

Though Liu’s accomplishments speak highly of his expertise and skill in the field, he is quick to acknowledge the contributions of those individuals who have given him aid along the way.

“This award is really a recognition of my talented group members, past and present, as well as all my wonderful colleagues and collaborators that I have had the privilege to work with,” says Liu. “It is also a small tribute to two of my late mentors, Chuck Fadley and Winston Ko, who sadly passed away over the summer. Both of them were very important to my career. They would have been proud.”

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)