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Prof. Andrea Alù Wins $1 Million National Science Foundation Waterman Award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Andrea Alù, an associate professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, the prestigious 2015 Waterman Award, which comes with $1 million of research funding. Alù is the first recipient from a Texas university.

An associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a former recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, Alù is renowned for groundbreaking discoveries and technological innovations in the defense and communications sectors.

The annual award, one of the highest given to scientists and engineers in the United States, recognizes an outstanding young researcher (35 years old or younger) in any field of science or engineering supported by the NSF. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives $1 million over a five-year period for scientific research at the institution of the recipient's choice. Awardees are selected based on originality and innovation of their research and their overall impact on the field.

The 2015 Waterman Award will be presented to Alù at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 5.

“Andrea is unquestionably one of the leading researchers in metamaterials and plasmonics, regardless of age, and he is an excellent teacher,” said Ahmed Tewfik, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I do not know of other researchers who have introduced as many seminal concepts in engineering, applied physics, electromagnetics and optics as he has at this stage in his career.”

The award will enable Alù to continue his groundbreaking research in cloaking, transparency, metamaterials, plasmonics, optics, photonics, acoustic devices, electromagnetics, nanocircuits and nanoantennas.

“The Waterman Award was created 40 years ago to recognize outstanding young researchers,” said NSF Director France A. Córdova. “Dr. Alù’s research is an example of the type of pioneering spirit the award seeks to identify. His research has already advanced our understanding of artificial materials and their wave interactions and promises to yield further significant results.

Alù joined the Cockrell School’s faculty in 2009 and became the David and Doris Lybarger Endowed Faculty Fellow in Engineering and an associate professor in 2013.

At UT Austin, he has developed trailblazing technologies, including the first freestanding 3-D invisibility cloak capable of camouflaging objects from microwaves and the first nonreciprocal acoustic circulator (or one-way sound device). He is a member of the Cockrell School’s Wireless Networking and Communications Group and the Metamaterials and Plasmonic Research Laboratory.

Alù is a past recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Microwave Theory and Techniques Society’s Outstanding Young Engineer Award (2014), the International Union of Pure Applied Physics Young Scientist Prize in Optics (2013), The Optical Society’s Adolph Lomb Medal (2013), the International Union of Radio Science’s Issac Koga Gold Medal (2011), the NSF CAREER Award (2010), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award (2010) and the Leopold B. Felsen Award for Excellence in Electrodynamics (2008).

Alù earned his Ph.D., master of science and laurea degrees from the University of Roma Tre in Rome, and he conducted his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania. He has co-authored more than 400 frequently cited contributions to scientific literature and serves as associate editor of several international journals, including IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters, Optics Express andNanophotonics. Alù sits on the editorial boards of Advanced Optical MaterialsScientific Reports and Physical Review B.