Han Won the 2011 Simon Prize

Photo (left-right): Dr. Bryant Williams, Dr. Melinda Han, Prof. Irving Herman, Dr. Jane Faggen, and Prof. Aron Pinczuk

The Robert Simon Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the APAM Department to the graduate student who has completed the most outstanding dissertation.

Dr. Melinda Han was the recipient of the 2011 award.

Dr. Han received a B.Sci. degree in Engineering Physics and a B.A. in Applied Math from the Univ. of California at Berkeley in May 2004. In September 2004, she started her studies in the APAM Department in Applied Physics. She received her M.S. degree in May 2005 and then joined Professor Philip Kim’s group, as a Graduate Research Assistant in January 2005. She was a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellow from 2007-2009.

In her Ph.D. thesis, “Electronic Transport in Graphene Nanoribbons”, Dr. Han reported on the electronic properties of graphene nanostructured into 1-dimensional structures whose widths are in the tens of nanometers. This work demonstrates the lithographic fabrication of graphene nanoribbons and reports the observation of a length- and orientation-independent transport gap whose size is inversely proportional to the channel width. Through low temperature and temperature-dependent measurements it is observed that in the gap, electrons are localized, and charge transport exhibits a transition between thermally activated behavior at higher temperatures and variable range hopping at lower temperatures. By varying the geometric capacitance, it is determined that charging effects constitute a significant portion of the activation energy. Her thesis work also presents evidence that the treatment of etched graphene nanoribbons with diaminopropane results in charge doping from covalent chemical functionalization that is selective to the graphene edges.

While at Columbia, Dr. Han published nine journal papers including two first author papers in Physical Review Letters (2007 & 2009). These papers, which form the core of her thesis, have been very well recognized. The 2007 paper has been cited more than 800 times and the 2009 paper was chosen to be highlighted as an “Editors’ Suggestion” as well as a featured article in APS Synopses, February 2010. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, working on solar cell research.

History of the Robert Simon Memorial Prize

The Robert Simon Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics to the graduate student who has completed the most outstanding dissertation. Should no graduate student’s dissertation qualify in any given year, the prize may be awarded to either the most outstanding student who has completed a master of science degree in the Department or to the most outstanding graduating senior in the Department. The Department chair in consultation with the Department faculty selects the awardee.

Robert Simon (December 25, 1919–February 11, 2001) received a B.A. degree cum laude in classics from the City College of New York in 1941, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in mathematics from Columbia University in 1949. Between 1941 and 1944, Mr. Simon was a lieutenant in the United States Armed Forces serving in England, France, and Italy. He participated in the D-Day operation as a navigator for a plane that dropped paratroopers in the vicinity of Omaha Beach. General Dwight Eisenhower personally shook his hand and wished him well the night before the D-Day assault.

Mr. Simon, who was born and lived in New York City, spent a lifetime making valuable contributions to the field of computer science. Starting in 1953, he worked for 15 years at Sperry's Univac Division in various capacities including marketing, planning, systems engineering, systems programming, and information services. He also spent a year working at the Fairchild Engine Division as director of the Engineering Computer Group. He personally directed the establishment of several company computer centers at sites throughout the United States. Between 1969 and 1973, he was a partner with American Science Associates, a venture capital firm. Mr. Simon was a founder and vice president of Intech Capital Corporation and served on its board from 1972 to 1981 and a founder and member of the board of Leasing Technologies International, Inc. from 1983 until his retirement in 1995.

The prize was established in 2001 by Dr. Jane Faggen with additional support from friends and relatives of Mr. Simon.

Photos from the Award Ceremony and Reception on May 16, 2011


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