Center News

JILA’s PISEC High School Poster Symposium brings real science to students
Published: 04-19-2019

From enrichment tools for otters and ocean clean up to recycled computer monitor light displays, high school students got a chance to show off their scientific research this week at the PISEC High School Poster Symposium. Students from Englewood High School, Northglenn High School, and Skyline High School proudly displayed their research posters at JILA on Friday, giving their presentations to JILAns and other students. 

PISEC was founded as part of the JILA NSF Physics Frontier Center in 2008. Graduate and undergraduate students at JILA volunteer to work with students throughout the semester. They focus on giving the students real scientific experience, from designing an experiment to presenting their research on a poster. 


Marit Fiechter wins SPIN prize for best undergraduate physics thesis
Published: 04-17-2019

One of JILA’s former students was awarded high honors at Netherland’s Physical Society’s annual FYSICA conference this April. Marit Fiechter, an undergraduate student at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, won the Students of Physics In the Netherlands (SPIN) prize for her bachelor’s project, which included a 500 Euro cash prize from the Dutch Society of Physics.

Most undergraduate students in the Netherlands complete a three-month project at the end of his or her degree. Fiechter’s prize-winning thesis on narrow-line cooling of yttrium monoxide grew out of her work in Jun Ye’s lab at JILA. She says JILA’s collaborative spirit not only helped her research, it helped her grow as a scientist.

“I'm very grateful Jun gave me the opportunity to join his group; I really enjoyed my time at JILA,” she said in an email. “Not only did I like the project, I also got along with my coworkers (Ian Finneran, Yewei Wu and Shiqian Ding) really well. They are the reason I've learned as much as I have now, by always answering my questions and then enthusiastically explaining even more!”

She added, “I feel like I was surrounded by talented and hard-working people, who are eager to push their experiment forward while at the same time not stressing out about it.”

Fiechter will start her master’s degree in physics at ETH Zürich this September.

Jun Ye and Deborah Jin named 2018 Highly Cited Researchers
Published: 12-03-2018

JILA Fellows Jun Ye and Deborah Jin (1968 to 2016) have been named Highly Cited Researchers for 2018 by Clarivate Analytics.

The list of Highly Cited Researchers, published annually since 2014, recognizes scientists across the world who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade.

Clarivate’s list of Highly Cited Researchers is determined by production of multiple papers whose citations rank in the top 1% in Web of Science. The 2018 list surveys papers published from 2006 through 2016, across 21 fields of science and social science. Approximately 6,000 researchers were named Highly Cited Researchers in 2018. Ye and Jin are among 211 physicists across the world included in the list.

Although Debbie Jin passed away in September 2016, she remains on the list covering publications from the period 2006 through 2016, reflecting her enormous impact on science even during her courageous battle with cancer. Jin and Ye were close collaborators and friends, jointly publishing many of the key scientific papers on the production, characterization and applications of quantum degenerate gases of polar molecules. 

“It is humbling to see the impact that both Jun and Debbie continue to have on worldwide physics research, even two years after Debbie’s passing,” said Thomas O’Brian, a JILA Fellow and chief of the Time and Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Ye group conducts a particularly broad and deep program in quantum science, including ultracold lattices of strontium atoms for world-leading atomic clocks and quantum many-body research, ultrastable lasers and femtosecond laser frequency combs, quantum degenerate molecular gases, and precision measurements.

Learn more about the methodology for determining top citations and access the full list of 2018 Highly Cited Researchers on the Clarivate Analytics website

Perkins and Lehnert Awarded Department of Commerce Medals
Published: 09-26-2018

26th September 2018 — JILA Fellows Dr. Tom Perkins and Dr. Konrad Lehnert both received medals from the Department of Commerce last night at the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Perkins received the Gold Medal, which is the highest honorary award given by the United States Department of Commerce, or DOC. Perkins was recognized for creating the world’s best atomic force microscope tailored to biological measurements. This device can “grab” onto biological molecules, such as proteins, and measure the tiny forces involved in their folding and unfolding.

Perkins was also recognized for using this technology to study the structure and dynamics of key membrane proteins, which are proteins that control the exchange of chemicals into and out of cells. His techniques revealed the structure and dynamics of these proteins in ten times greater detail than previously possible. This research will lead to better understanding, and subsequently diagnosis and treatment, of the diseases developed through protein misfoldings, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cystic fibrosis.

 “I am honored to receive this award,” said Perkins. “It reflects a decade of efforts by my students and post-docs as we sequentially addressed a set of metrological limitations to bioAFM, including a key advance by an undergraduate. We then successfully demonstrated our metrological improvements by resolving a multitude of hidden dynamics of bacteriorhodopsin, a result that biologist and biochemists cared about.”

Dr. Lehnert received the Silver Medal as part of a team of NIST scientists building the components of a quantum communications network. In addition to Lehnert, the team included Dr. Jose Aumentado, Dr. Raymond Simmonds and Dr. John Teufel. Aumentado, Simmonds and Teuful are scientists in the Applied Physics Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, CO.

The team was recognized for the first realization of the complex components needed for future quantum networks. Quantum networks, or the ability to connect multiple quantum nodes, will advance quantum computing and the rapid, secure exchange of quantum information. The components realized by the team include techniques to store, exchange, transmit, amplify, and readout quantum information using quantum-based superconducting circuits and quantum-controlled micromechanical resonators. The team’s accomplishments represent multiple first and best advances in technologies for quantum networks.

“It was exhilarating to get out in front of this highly competitive new research area,” said Lehnert. “By working together, John, Ray, Jose and I were able to quickly make great progress.”

The awarding of DOC gold and silver medals is an annual traditional established in 1949. The awards are presented to individuals, groups, or organizations in the Department of Commerce for extraordinary, noble, or prestigious contributions.

Previous recipients of DOC awards include 14 JILA Fellows. The most recent JILA Fellow awardee was Ralph Jimenez, who was part of a NIST team awarded the Gold Medal in 2017 for developing tools to create stop-action X-ray measurements of molecules. One of the earliest JILA Fellow awardees was Jan Hall, who received the Gold Medal individually in 1969, and again as part of a team in 1974 and 2002. 

Jun Ye Stars in Feature Film
Published: 08-22-2018

JILA Jun Ye hit the big screen this summer as he debuted in the feature-length documentary, “The Most Unknown”.

“The Most Unknown” brings together nine scientists from across the globe, all of whom are using science to answer deep philosophical questions, such as how did life begin, and what is time? The scientists are brought together, (“blind-date style,” as the New Yorker’s review accurately describes it) to discuss how their work from various fields might overlap.  

According to a New York Times review, “‘The Most Unknown’ works best as inspiration to delve deeper into these disciplines, and as a celebration of science.”

The full 85-minute film was produced by Motherboard, Vice’s media tech-culture channel, and directed by Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ian Cheney and advised by world-renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog. The film was made possible by a grant from Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.

The film was first released on 18 May 2018 in only select U.S. theatres. As of August, the film is streaming on Netflix.

A live screening with special guests will be held at the University of Colorado Boulder on Monday, October 1st

Watch the trailer below:

Ye wins 2018 Rabi Award for research on optical lattice atomic clocks
Published: 02-22-2018

JILA Fellow Jun Ye was named the 2018 winner of the I. I. Rabi Award by the IEEE Frequency Control Symposium. Ye was recognized “for the development of stabile, reproducible, and accurate atomic clocks based on optical lattices, and the use of those clocks to probe fundamental atomic interactions and quantum many-body systems.”

The award recognizes Ye’s sustained leadership in perfecting optical lattice atomic clocks as the most accurate and precise timekeepers in the world, and Ye’s continual pioneering of new physics, such as his recent first-in-the-world Fermi degenerate gas atomic clock using quantum many-body physical principles to dramatically improve clock accuracy and stability.

The IEEE Frequency Control Symposium is the world’s largest and most important scientific society dealing with atomic timekeeping and related topics. The Rabi Award is the Symposium’s highest award for scientific research in atomic timekeeping. Award namesake Isidor Rabi was the 1944 Nobel Physics Laureate for his invention of the resonance technique in molecular beams. In 1945, Rabi was the first to suggest this method could be used to make atomic clocks, and indeed Rabi’s method was adopted for the best atomic clocks for several decades. More recently, Ye and other scientists perfected the new and more precise method of optical lattice atomic clocks.

Previous Rabi Award winners at JILA have included JILA Fellows Jan Hall and Judah Levine.

The award will be formally presented to Ye at the International Frequency Control Symposium in Squaw Creek, CA, May 21-24, 2018.

Congratulations to Jun!

Ye Elected to Chinese Academy of Sciences
Published: 12-13-2017

The Chinese Academy of Sciences announced on November 29, 2017 the election of JILA Fellow Jun Ye as a Foreign Member, China’s highest honor for foreign scientists:

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) promotes scientific and technological advances across the world. CAS includes a network of more than 100 research and development organizations across the world; three universities; and a traditional merit-based academy analogous to the US National Academy of Sciences to recognize and convene scientific leaders from across the world.

Membership in the CAS is comparable to election to the US National Academy of Sciences, representing a significant honor for international achievement and impact in science. Members are selected to one or more Divisions, including Physics and Mathematics (the Division to which Ye was elected), Chemistry, Life Sciences and Medical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Information Technology Sciences, and Technological Sciences.

The CAS currently has 800 Chinese members and 92 foreign members, including the newest members. Foreign Members are elected from across the world based on their scientific achievements. A few examples of current foreign members of the CAS in addition to Ye include:

·       Richard Zare, Stanford, father of ultrafast laser chemistry and former JILA Fellow.

·       Klaus von Klitzing, Germany, Nobel Physics Laureate for integer quantum Hall effect.

·       Steve Chu, Stanford and Bell Labs, Nobel Physics Laureate for laser cooling and former US Energy Secretary and former JILA Visiting Fellow.

·       Charles Kao, multiple universities and industries in US, UK and Hong Kong, Nobel Physics Laureate for pioneering optical fibers.

Ye is also one of JILA’s several members of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Similar to the CAS, the US NAS has about 2,000 US Members and about 400 Foreign Members.

Ye’s election to the CAS recognizes his world leadership in ultracold atoms and molecules, in optical lattice atomic clocks, in ultrastable lasers and femtosecond laser frequency combs, and in precision measurements.

Congratulations to Jun Ye on this great honor!

Ye wins NIST Jacob Rabinow Applied Research Award
Published: 12-13-2017

JILA and NIST Fellow Jun Ye was named the 2017 winner of the NIST Jacob Rabinow Applied Research Award, one of the top honors for the more than 1,600 scientific and technical NIST employees.

Jacob Rabinow was a prolific innovator working at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), the predecessor of NIST, receiving more than 200 patents for his inventions of mechanical, electrical and optical devices and systems.

The NIST Rabinow Award for applied science emphasizes the breadth, depth and impact of Ye’s work. Ye’s leading-edge scientific research has resulted in innovations including ultrastable lasers, world-leading atomic clocks, and novel frequency comb applications. Such innovations and are used for a wide range of applications, from medical diagnostics to new ultraprecision chemical measurements.

Ye has received many international and NIST awards for his pioneering fundamental research. Ye is one of the very few people to have won both NIST’s highest award for fundamental research (Samuel Wesley Stratton Award) as well as NIST’s highest award for applied science (Rabinow Award).

Jun will receive his award from the NIST Director at the NIST Annual Awards Ceremony on December 13, 2017.

Ye and Jin, highly cited researchers for fourth consecutive year
Published: 11-16-2017

JILA Fellows Jun Ye and Deborah Jin (1968 to 2016) have been named Highly Cited Researchers for 2017 by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters). 

The list of Highly Cited Researchers, published annually since 2014, recognizes scientists across the world with the greatest number (top 1%) of highly cited publications. The 2017 list covers the period from 2006 through 2016, and includes all categories of science. Ye and Jin are among 193 physicists across the world included in the list.

 Publishing many papers which are frequently cited by other scientists is a mark of exceptional impact. Clarivate calls the people on the list “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.” Clariviate's list recognizes researchers for their dedication and focus to expanding the sphere of human knowledge. 

Although Debbie Jin passed away in September 2016, she remains on the list covering publications from the period 2006 through 2016, reflecting her enormous impact on science even during her courageous battle with cancer. Jin and Ye were close collaborators and friends, jointly publishing many of the key scientific papers on the production, characterization and applications of quantum degenerate gases of polar molecules. 

The Ye group conducts a particularly broad and deep program in quantum science, including ultracold lattices of strontium atoms for world-leading atomic clocks and quantum many-body research, ultrastable lasers and femtosecond laser frequency combs, quantum degenerate molecular gases, and precision measurements.


Congratulations to Ye and Jin and their group members for their continuing innovations and impact on science.


Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers site

PhET Team Receives 2018 APS Excellence in Physics Education Award
Published: 10-27-2017

The American Physical Society has bestowed its 2018 Excellence in Physics Education Award upon the PhET Interactive Simulations Team. The team includes Stanford University Professor Carl Wieman, PhET’s Founder and senior advisor; PhET Director Kathy Perkins (University of Colorado); Ariel Paul, Director of Development; Michael Dubson, Physics faculty, University of Colorado; Emily B. Moore, Director of Research and Accessibility, University of Colorado; and Sam Reid, Software Developer, University of Colorado, and Wendy K. Adams, Colorado School of Mines.

The award cited the PhET Interactive Simulations Team “for the systematic development, dissemination, and evaluation of the physics education tool, PhET Interactive Simulations project, used world-wide by millions of students and their teachers.”

The Excellence in Physics Education Award is given in recognition of a team that has exhibited a sustained commitment to excellence in physics education. The award, which is presented annually, consists of $5000, a certificate citing the achievements of the group or individual, and an allowance for travel expenses to the 2018 APS April meeting where the award will be presented.

Of the award-winning PhET team, Wieman, Paul, and Perkins have special ties to JILA. Wieman was a University of Colorado Physics Professor and JILA Fellow 1985-2006. During his tenure at JILA, he and Eric Cornell made the world’s first Bose-Einstein condensate, a feat for which they won the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics. Ariel Paul did his Ph.D. thesis work and postdoctoral research at JILA as well as serving as a JILA Instrument Shop apprentice. Paul and Perkins are currently JILA affiliates. Wieman is a Fellow Adjoint.

Congratulations to the PhET Interactive Simulations Team!

PhET Sims wins 2017 WISE Award
Published: 09-26-2017

PhET Interactive Simulations, based at the University of Colorado Boulder, has been named one of six recipients of the 2017 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Awards.

PhET was founded in 2002 by Nobel Laureate and JILA Fellow Adjoint Carl Wieman. It was previously funded by the JILA Physics Frontier Center. PhET creates interactive math and science simulations in game-like environments. The simulations encourage students to learn through interaction and discovery.

The WISE awards recognize projects that take an innovative approach to challenges in global education. The winners are awarded $20,000 and are invited to attended the eighth World Innovation Summit for Education, held Nov 14–16 this year in Doha, Qatar.

“To be selected from the many deserving projects is truly a great honor for our team,” said Kathy Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Colorado, and the Director of PhET since 2010. “This WISE Award affirms the importance of STEM learning and literacy in today’s world and the positive impact high-quality open educational resources can have at scale.”

One of PhET's founding philosophies is to be a flexible tool. Ariel Paul, PhET’s Director of Development, says PhET’s simulations can be both a demo for second-graders, and a relevant teaching tool for college classes. The PhET project hopes to increase its flexibility in a new manner––via increased accessibility. Some PhET simulations are produced in device-agnostic HTML5 and translated into more than 90 languages. In the near future, PhET plans to increase digital accessibility and optimize for mobile devices.

PhET simulations are available for free on the PhET website. The most popular sim, the Circuit Construction Kit, is run more than eight million times a year worldwide. Other popular sims include Energy Skate Park, Build an Atom, and Forces and Motions.


Tom Perkins Wins 2017 Governor’s Award
Published: 08-28-2017

Fellow Tom Perkins has won a 2017 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research. Perkins will receive the award from Governor John Hickenlooper at an event sponsored by the CO-LABS consortium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on October 5, 2017. This year’s ninth annual event will honor Colorado’s top scientists and engineers for projects having a significant impact on society.

“The projects in this year’s CO-LABS High-Impact Awards spotlight what makes Colorado a leader in innovation,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “It’s terrific to see research advance its partnerships with the private sector. I congratulate the scientific teams for their groundbreaking work and am excited to see the mark they will leave on our state and society as a whole.”

For his part, Perkins said, “I’m delighted to see the Governor and CO-LABS celebrating the diversity of excellent science in Colorado.”

Perkins is being recognized for work described as New twists in the molecules of life. In a decade long project, Perkins developed powerful new tools to measure and study individual biomolecules. He then partnered with the biotech industry to develop tools to improve the measurement and understanding of the structure and function of single proteins and nucleic acids, which play key roles in the biophysics and biochemistry of life. Amazingly, Perkins’ new tools can probe these key biomolecules in real time and under real world conditions.

Starting with an ordinary atomic-force microscope (AFM), Perkins painstakingly modified the AFM cantilevers to make the world’s most precise measurements of the structural components of individual proteins and nucleic acids. Today, he watches these large, complex molecules fold and unfold as they perform normal biological functions. He accomplishes all this in the wet, warm environment of living cells. His new AFM technology can completely analyze the folding and unfolding of a biomolecule in the laboratory in 2–3 days. Without the new AFM technology, this process used to take months of work.

As part of his effort to create better instruments for studying biomolecules, Perkins worked with instrument makers and pharmaceutical/biotech companies to apply his unique AFM technology to making ultraprecise measurements of the real-time folding and unfolding of individual biomolecules. These collaborative experiments are expected to impact medical diagnostics and treatments as well as speeding up the progress of fundamental biomedical and biological research.

Perkins has transferred his new technology through invents and patents, widely cited scientific publications, direct collaborations with industry, and by training young scientists who have built upon his work at AFM and biotech companies.

Ana Maria Rey Named NIST Fellow
Published: 08-21-2017

Ana Maria Rey has been appointed a NIST Fellow as of August 21,2017 by the Acting Director of NIST. JILA is a research and training partnership between the University of Colorado and NIST, and Ana Maria is one of the several JILA Fellows who are NIST employees. Ana Maria was named a NIST Fellow in recognition of her world-leading program in quantum theory, her pioneering work in quantum many-body physics, and her continuing powerful collaborations with experimentalists at JILA, at NIST, and across the world.

NIST Fellow is the highest scientific position at NIST, and is limited to no more than 40 of the more than 1,800 scientific employees across the organization who demonstrate unique scientific leadership and innovation. The NIST Director also relies on the NIST Fellows to provide advice and guidance about current and future research directions for the organization. Ana Maria joins Eric Cornell, David Nesbitt, Jun Ye, and Judah Levine as JILA Fellows who are also NIST Fellows.

“It’s a great honor for me,” Ana Maria said. “NIST has been part of my life, my research and my career since I did my PhD thesis work with Charles Clark of NIST. I chose to become a theoretical physicist because I heard (NIST Nobel Laureate) Bill Phillips giving a talk at NIST.”

“Becoming a NIST Fellow is the latest of many well-deserved honors for Ana Maria in her enormously productive scientific career,” said Tom O’Brian, Ana Maria’s NIST supervisor at JILA. “Ana Maria has a huge impact on JILA, NIST, and the international scientific community. She and her group have the unique ability to fully collaborate with experimentalists. They have developed new theory that directly advances experiments such as the world’s best atomic clocks, world-leading programs in ultracold molecules, and world-record entanglement of ions for quantum simulation––among many other accomplishments. Ana Maria is also an exceptional mentor and teacher, preparing her graduate students and postdoctoral researchers for highly productive careers of their own. JILA and NIST are extremely fortunate to have Ana Maria’s leadership.”

Congratulations to Ana Maria.

Leah Dodson Wins 2017 Miller Prize
Published: 07-18-2017

Leah Dodson won the Miller Prize at the 72nd International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, held June 19–23 in Urbana, Illinois. Dodson is an NRC postdoc whose official advisor is Jun Ye, but who primarily works on molecular spectroscopy in the Mathias Weber lab. Her award-winning talk was entitled “Oxalate Formation in Titanium––Carbon Dioxide Anionic Clusters Studied by Infrared Photodissociation Spectroscopy.”

“Leah gave a nice polished presentation with good organization and clarity,” said Ben McCall, Chair of the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, in a letter to Weber announcing the award. “She clearly outlined the rationale, the experiment, and the results. She was engaged, excited about her project, and good at thinking on the spot.”

Dodson’s project featured in her talk was the investigation of catalysts in model systems. Specifically, she studied the possible use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a catalyst to break carbon-oxygen (C–O) bonds in carbon dioxide (CO2) produced in a factory. Breaking C–O bonds in CO2 is a key step in turning this greenhouse gas back into usable fuel––and keeping it out of the atmosphere. Dodson’s experiment worked surprisingly well. In the experiment, TiO2 anions effectively broke COmolecules, forming metal carbonyl in the process. This experiment was the basis for her symposium talk, which resulted in the Miller Prize.

As a Miller Prize winner, Dodson has been invited to present a 15-min talk in one of the plenary sessions in the June 2018 symposium. Dodson will also serve as a judge in the 2018 Miller Prize competition. In addition, she and her coauthors have been invited to submit an article based on her talk at this year’s symposium to the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy. 

Bryce Bjork Awarded 2017 Rao Prize
Published: 07-17-2017

Bryce Bjork’s talk entitled “Direct Measurement of OD+CO-> cis-DOCO, trans-DOCO, and D+CO2 Branching Kinetics using Time-Resolved Frequency Comb Spectroscopy” was selected by a panel of judges at the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy as one of three winners of the 2017 Rao Prize. The prize will be presented to Bjork at the June 2018 Symposium.

In addition, Bjork was asked to serve as a judge in the 2018 Rao Prize competition. If he is able to attend next year’s Symposium, his registration fee will be waived and he will receive an up-to-six nights’ stay at the four-bedroom suite rate.

“There were many superb talks, but yours was exceptional,” said Gary Douberly, Chair of the 2017 Rao Prize Committee, in a recent letter to Bjork informing him of his selection. “We hope that this prize represents the beginning of what we expect will be a distinguished career in science.”

Rao Prize winners and their co-authors are invited to submit articles based on their talks to the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy. When published, the article will appear in the journal with a caption linking the paper with the symposium talk that won the Rao Prize.

“The prize is given to graduate students,” said Jun Ye, Bjork’s advisor at JILA.  “But, it usually signifies the beginning point of a young spectacular scientific career in the field of molecular spectroscopy.” 

NPR’s Eric Westervelt Talks with Carl Wieman about His New Book
Published: 06-13-2017

NPR’s education reporter Eric Westervelt is excited about Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman’s passion for transforming how undergraduate science courses are taught. On June 7, 2017, Westervelt talked with Wieman about his new book Improving How Universities Teach Science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative, which was published by Harvard University Press in May of 2017.

Wieman’s message is that universities should do away with lectures in undergraduate science courses and replace them with active learning methods. Instruction based on active learning substantially improves understanding and retention of complicated material. Plus, students attend more classes and get more out of their classroom experiences. Armed with data to prove that he’s right about the effectiveness of active learning methods, Wieman is determined to convince universities across the nation to give up on the lecture method of teaching science to undergraduates.

The lecture system “grew up haphazardly,” Wieman explained during the interview. “Really it grew before the printing press was invented, and the structures––like the lecture––were how to transmit information to people who didn’t have books.”

Wieman said his research showed that lectures actually circumvent the way the brain processes and learns new information. During a lecture, information just flows by and students typically retain only about 10% of what they hear. And, to make matters worse, many students these days are busy with cell phone apps as the information flies by. Another problem is that universities often value faculty research accomplishments far more than teaching skills.

Westervelt first spoke with Wieman on NPR about improving science teaching in universities on April 14, 2016. That program was entitled “A Nobel Laureate’s Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching,” In that interview, Westervelt said that Wieman believed that, “the college lecture is the educational equivalent of bloodletting, one long overdue for revision.”

Carl Wieman began his research on undergraduate science education while a Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and a Fellow of JILA. Wieman joined the University of British Columbia in 2007 and moved to Stanford University in 2013, where he is Professor of Physics and Professor of the Graduate School of Education. Wieman is a Fellow Adjoint of JILA.



DAMOP Thesis Award Renamed to Honor Deborah Jin
Published: 04-28-2017

The American Physical Society is memorializing Fellow Deborah Jin by renaming the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP) Award for “Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics." Henceforward, the award will be called the Deborah Jin Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics.

On April 27, 2017, the Deborah Jin Memorial Endowment Campaign reached its goal of raising $100,000 to supplement the award’s existing endowment fund. The income from this endowment will help with travel expenses for finalists and provide funding to make it possible for a more diverse group of students to attend the annual DAMOP meeting.

The Deborah Jin Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics recognizes thesis research of outstanding quality and achievement in these areas of physics. The award consists of a $2,500 stipend, a certificate citing the achievements of the recipient, and a travel allowance of $1,000 for finalists to attend the DAMOP annual meeting. At this meeting, the recipient of each year’s award is selected and presented with the award.

JILA Fellows who donated to the recent endowment campaign include Eric Cornell, John Hall, Cindy Regal, Ana Maria Rey, Jun Ye, and James Faller. Many former JILA students and postdocs as well as NIST colleagues and friends of Jin also made generous contributions to the fund.

M Squared Lasers generously sponsors the DAMOP award, which will now honor Deborah Jin in perpetuity while recognizing young researchers.

Christina Porter Wins 2017 Karel Urbanek Best Student Paper Award at SPIE Conference
Published: 03-07-2017

Christina Porter has won the 2017 Karel Urbanek Best Student Paper Award. The award consists of a wall plaque, honorarium, and trophy. The award was presented  on Thursday March 2, 2017, at this year's Metrology, Inspection, and Process Control for Microlithography conference at the SPIE Advanced LIthography in San Jose, California. The award is sponsored by KLA-Tencor.

Porter's paper was entitled "Sub-wavelength transmission and reflection-mode tabletop imaging with 13-nm illumination via ptychography CDI." The paper was judged along with Porter's oral presentation to earn her the prestigious award. Porter was co-first author with Michael Tanksalvala on the winning paper. Additional authors included Dennis F. Gardner, Michael Gerrity, Giulia F. Mancini, Xiaoshi Zhang, Galen P. Miley, Elisabeth R. Shanblatt, Benjamin R. Galloway, Charles S. Bevis, Robert Karl, Jr., Daniel A. Adams, Henry C. Kapteyn, and Margaret M. Murnane. 

The Karel Urbanek Best Student Paper award recognizes the most promising contribution to the field by a student. The award is based on the technical merit and persuasiveness of the paper presented at the conference. 

Margaret Murnane Awarded the 2017 Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Prize by OSA
Published: 02-16-2017

Margaret Murnane has been awarded the 2017 Optical Society of America’s (OSA’s) Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Prize. The award recognizes overall distinction in optics and is the highest award given by OSA. The award was given to Murnane “for pioneering and sustained contributions to ultrafast science ranging from femtosecond lasers to soft x-ray high-harmonic generation to attosecond studies of atoms, molecules, and surfaces.”

Murnane is the first woman to receive this Medal in its nearly 90-year history.

As the 2017 medalist, Murnane has been asked to present a plenary address at OSA’s Annual Meeting, to be held September 17–21 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC.

The Frederic Ives Medal was endowed in 1928 by Herbert E. Ives, a distinguished charter member and OSA president in 1924 and 1925. The award is named for his father, Frederic Ives, who invented modern photoengraving and made pioneering contributions to color photography, three-color process printing, and other branches of applied optics. The prize is now funded by the Jarus W. Quinn Ives Medal Endowment, which was raised by OSA members at the time of Quinn’s retirement in recognition of his 25 years of service as OSA’s first Executive Director.

Ralph Jimenez Awarded Department of Commerce Bronze Medal
Published: 02-03-2017

Ralph Jimenez received a Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for Superior Federal Service at a ceremony held in mid-December 2016. The Medal is the highest honor presented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May presided over the awards ceremony, which was held concurrently at NIST's Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado, campuses.

Jimenez received his Bronze Medal Award "for pioneering innovative tools for transforming the measurement, characterization and collection of biomolecules and cells for applications in industry, medicine, and research." He was recognized for leading a multidisciplinary program combining ultrafast lasers, custom microfluidics, biochemistry, and directed evolution to measure and use large biomolecules and living cells for a range of applications, including more efficiently making biofuels, revealing the details of how enzymes work within cells, as well as developing new molecular tools for nondestructively imaging and measuring chemical reactions within living cells. His accomplishments include

     * Inventing a new high-throughput cytometer that uses ultrafast lasers and microfluidics to nondestructively identify and collect individual living cells with unique and       highly desirable properties,

     * Pioneering methods to measure complex three-dimensional motions of large biomolecules, such as enzymes and proteins, in their natural cellular environments, and    

     * Developing and characterizing fluorescent proteins for use in measurements of chemical and physical reactions within living cells. 

Jimenez' innovations and patented innovations are accelerating the ability of basic and applied researchers to study, understand, and apply their new understanding of the biochemistry of cells in both normal and diseased states.

Deborah Jin and Katharine Gebbie Featured in Scientific American Tribute
Published: 01-10-2017

Deborah Jin and Katharine Gebbie are two of 10 prominent scientists featured in "Gone in 2016: Notable Women in Science and Technology" written by Maia Weinstock. The article appeared online in Scientific American blogs on December 28, 2016. Jin, who died on September 15, 2016 at age 47, was a visionary researcher in ultracold atomic physics. Gebbie, who died on August 17 at age 84, began her career as an astrophysicist at JILA, then rose through the ranks at the National Institute of Science and Technology to become director of NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory. The loss of both women in 2016 was a great blow to JILA scientists and staff alike.

Matt Norcia Wins JILA Scientific Achievement Award
Published: 02-19-2016

Graduate Student Matt Norcia (Thompson group) received a JILA Scientific Achievement Award on February 18. The announcement took place during a special snack time in the Sunrise Room of the JILA Tower.

Norcia was cited for building a strontium cavity-QED experiment from scratch. Norcia’s advisor, James Thompson, nominated him for the prestigious award. Thompson noted that Norcia’s experiment had accomplished important research goals for the group. Norcia's work is expected to result in publications in Physical Review A, Physical Review X, and Science.

“I believe that Matt is one of the best experimentalists I have ever worked with here at JILA and at MIT,” Thompson said in his nomination letter.

Congratulations Matt!

Jun Ye Selected for 2015 Presidential Rank Award
Published: 12-16-2015

President Obama has selected JILA Fellow Jun Ye of NIST's Quantum Physics Division to receive a 2015 Presidential Rank Award. The award cited Ye's work advancing "the frontier of light-matter interaction and focusing on precision measurement, quantum physics and ultracold matter, optical frequency metrology, and ultrafast science."

The Presidential Rank Awards honor a select group of senior Federal employees for “sustained extraordinary accomplishment.” These employees are "strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service."

Ye was awarded the highest of the two Rank Award levels, the Distinguished Executive, which can be given to no more than 1% of the approximately 6,800 senior Federal employees across the nation. The Award includes a monetary prize equal to 35% of the employee’s base pay, plus a certificate signed by the President.

The award recognizes Ye as a world leader in laser and atomic physics. He has a long and diverse list of major accomplishments, including the world’s most accurate atomic clock, the world’s most stable laser, extreme ultraviolet frequency combs, major advances with ultracold molecules and chemistry (partly with Debbie Jin), pioneering novel quantum many-body phenomena, and many other breakthroughs.

Congratulations to Jun Ye!





Science Buffs Features JILA’s Innovative Platform for Observing the Ultrafast and Ultrasmall
Published: 11-19-2015

Graduate student Chris Mancuso and senior research associate Dan Hickstein of the Kapteyn/Murnane group recently spoke with Amanda Grennell, a 5th year PhD candidate in Chemistry at the University of Colorado Boulder. The researchers discussed the K/M group’s paper “Strong-field ionization with two-color circularly polarized laser fields,” which appeared in Physical Review A in March, 2015. The result is a delightful blog post of the K/M group’s groundbreaking research on imaging with circularly polarized laser fields. The story includes terrific animations prepared by Hickstein. The story was posted by the BioFrontiers Science Alliance.

Enjoy learning about two-color circularly polarized laser fields by clicking on

You’ll be glad you did!

Debbie Jin & Jun Ye Highly Cited Researchers for 2015
Published: 10-08-2015

Deborah Jin and Jun Ye are Highly Cited Researchers for 2015, according to the Thomas Reuters website. The website states, "Highly Cited Researchers 2015 represents some of world’s most influential scientific minds. About three thousand researchers earned this distinction by writing the greatest number of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers—ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact."

Congratulations to Debbie & Jun on all their great research!


JILA’s NSF Physics Frontier Center follows University of Colorado polices for ensuring harassment-free environments.  For more detailed information please read the whole Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures.