Physicist Randall Kamien Awarded Five-Year Simons Foundation Grant

July 15, 2013

Randall Kamien, Vicki and William Abrams Professor in the Natural Sciences in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Penn Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a five-year, $500,000 grant from the Simons Foundation, as part of its 2013 class of Simons Investigators.

Similar to the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grants,” the Simons Foundation grants come with no strings attached. They are intended to enable the researchers to undertake long-term study of fundamental questions in theoretical fields. Kamien is one of only 13 mathematicians, theoretical physicists, and theoretical computer scientists who were selected this year.

The Foundation describes Kamien as “a leading figure in the theory of topological effects in condensed matter physics, known for the mathematical rigor he brings to his work and in particular for the use of sophisticated and elegant geometrical methods to obtain insight into fundamental aspects of the structure of polymers, colloids, liquid crystals, and related materials, and into the topological defects occurring in these materials.” Kamien’s recent work has included collaborations with engineers in applying principles of origami to the design of functional nano-structures and in using liquid crystals as templates for nanofabrication.

Each grant comes with an additional $100,000 that goes to the researcher’s department and university. At the end of the five years, the foundation will consider the work for an additional five years of funding.

Kamien joins fellow physics professor Charles Kane, who was among the inaugural class of Simons Investigators named in 2012.

Read more about Kamien’s work applying origami principles to nanostructure design here.