Logo: University of Southern California

Double Distinction: Hsieh Department Assistant Professor Wins Two Prestigious Research Grants

Nanophotonics specialist receives both ARO Young Investigator Award and NSF CAREER Award
Eric Mankin
September 27, 2009 —

Michelle L. Povinelli's career has quickly gone into high gear after coming to the Viterbi School.

Michelle Povinelli

She recently received a 5-year $400,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, only a short time after receiving a 3-year $150,000 Army Research Office Young Investigator Award.

Both awards are for outstanding junior scientists beginning independent research careers.

"The awards are clearly a proof of Prof. Povinelli's excellent research ideas and direction as well as her excellent accomplishments so far," said Eun Sok Kim, Professor and Chair of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering-Electrophysics. "The research funds associated with the awards will be instrumental for her to lay down a solid foundation for her research programs, which we believe will be very impactful. We are proud of her, and have great confidence in her."

Povinelli says she studies "the interaction of light with nanostructured and microstructured materials, or nanophotonics. ... I am building a focused experimental effort on the fabrication and characterization of silicon microphotonic devices, including microscale waveguides and photonic crystals. My work also involves a close connection between science and technology; advances in fabrication and synthesis of nanostructured materials continuously suggest new scientific questions as well as new technological applications."

The grants will jump-start this work. The NSF funding is for investigation of “Optical Forces in Integrated Microphotonic Devices;” while the ARO award will support research on “Light Assisted Assembly and Reconfiguration of Complex Optical Materials Using Microphotonic Templates,”

Grad students are already on hand to carry out the work. She has recruited four Ph.D. candidates since her arrival in August 2008, two of whom have already co-authored papers with her.

Povinelli received a B.A. with Honors in Physics from the University of Chicago, an M. Phil in Physics from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She came to the Viterbi School from Stanford, where she had doing post-doctoral work in the Gintzon Laboratory. She holds the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program Gabilan Assistant Professorship.