Doctoral Physics Thesis Award Renamed In Honor Of Deborah Jin

Image Credit: Dave Neligh for NIST

June 2, 2017 – The APS Division of Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP) has renamed their doctoral thesis award to memorialize Deborah Jin, who passed away in September 2016 at the age of 47. The award is now designated the Deborah Jin Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics.

“Debbie was one of the great physicists of her era,” said Eric Cornell, Nobel Laureate and colleague of Jin at the NIST JILA institute at the University of Colorado Boulder. “Her untimely death is an incalculable loss to our field. It’s particularly fitting that APS is honoring her memory with this renaming. She was a wonderful mentor to her students and postdocs and during her too-short career she mentored three graduate students who went on to win the DAMOP Thesis Award. No other professor has matched that tally.”

Jin was a widely celebrated physicist and recipient of numerous prestigious awards and prizes in a career brought to an untimely end by cancer. She received the APS Maria Goeppert Mayer Award in 2002, the MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” in 2003, and in 2005 was the youngest person elected to the National Academy of Sciences to date, to name just a few of the honors she accumulated in a brief, but stellar career.

“The renaming of the DAMOP Thesis Award in memory of Debbie Jin is such an appropriate recognition of her outstanding leadership of, and support for, students,” said APS Chief Executive Officer Kate Kirby.

The Jin Award recognizes doctoral thesis research of outstanding quality and achievement in atomic, molecular, or optical (AMO) physics and encourages effective written and oral presentation of research results. The annual award is presented to one individual and consists of a $2,500 stipend and a certificate.