Penn Professor Wins Top British Liquid Crystal Society Award

March 4, 2016

Randall D. Kamien, Vicki and William Abrams Professor in the Natural Sciences in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has won the G. W. Gray Medal of the British Liquid Crystal Society for outstanding contributions to liquid crystal science. The Society’s most distinguished prize, the Gray Medal is named for George William Gray, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Hull who was a prominent researcher of liquid crystals and the author of Molecular Structure and the Properties of Liquid Crystals, a definitive text in the field.

Kamien focuses his research on soft condensed matter. He is the author or co-author of more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and serves on the editorial board of Physics Reports. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Mathematics and is a member of Penn’s Evolution Cluster.

In collaboration with researchers at Cornell University, Kamien leads a Penn team that is applying concepts from the Japanese arts of origami and kirigami to engineering. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation and has applications such as drug delivery systems, emergency shelters, and space exploration. In 2014, together with Allison Sweeney, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, Kamien received one of nine grants from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation to investigate living optical devices, or structures within animals that shape and direct light. He also received a five-year, $500,000 research grant from the Simons Foundation in 2013.

Kamien received a B.S. and M.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D in physics from Harvard University. He joined the Penn faculty as an assistant professor in 1997.