New APAM Faculty: Gaeta, Quenneville-Bélair, and Yang

The APAM Department is pleased to announce the appointments of three new faculty members: Alexander Gaeta, Vincent Quenneville-Bélair, and Yuan Yang.

Dr. Alexander L. Gaeta is the David M. Rickey Professor of Applied Physics and of Materials Science. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Rochester in 1983, 1985, and 1991, respectively. After receiving his doctoral degree in optics, he remained at the University of Rochester for two years as a postdoctoral research associate. He then joined the faculty of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics at Cornell University, rising through the academic ranks and named the Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Engineering.

His research interests include ultrafast nonlinear optics, nanophotonics, nonlinear propagation in fibers and bulk media, photonic crystal fibers, coherent interactions of laser light with matter, the generation of non-classical light fields, and stimulated scattering processes. The author or co-author of more than 200 publications, he is currently the editor-in-chief of the Optical Society of America’s journal Optica, and has served on the editorial boards of Laser Physics Letters and New Journal of Physics. While at Cornell, he served as the Chair of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics and Director of the Center for Nanoscale Systems from 2007-2012, and was a four-time recipient of the College of Engineering Teaching Award. Prof. Gaeta has received numerous honors in recognition of his research over his career, including Young Investigator Awards from the Office of Naval Research in 1993 and the Army Research Office in 1995. He is a fellow of the Optical Society of America and of the American Physical Society.

Dr. Vincent Quenneville-Bélair is the new Chu Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics.

He received his B.Sc. with first class honors in mathematics and physics from McGill University in 2008. He pursued his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, receiving his M.Sc. in applied mathematics in 2011, M.CS. (master of computer science) in 2014, and Ph.D. in applied mathematics in 2015, studying gravitational wave propagation using the finite element method with Prof. Douglas N. Arnold.

His research interests are in numerical analysis and scientific computation with applications to physics and wave propagation. In particular, he designed and analyzed new mixed finite elements by adapting the recently developed Finite Element Exterior Calculus (FEEC) framework to abstract Hodge wave equations. This framework enables him to borrow key ideas from Reissner-Mindlin plate bending and elasticity with weakly imposed symmetries to maintain stability of the method. The stability of a discretization often relies on deep connections between fundamental branches of mathematics: the FEEC mimics these connections for the numerical method to achieve similar stability to that of the original equations. The recent development of FEEC has had a transformative impact on electromagnetism and related computational problems, and he expanded it to general relativity.

Dr. Yuan Yang is a new assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering.

He received a B.S. degree in physics from Peking University in 2007 and Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering from Stanford University in 2012, under the supervision of Prof. Yi Cui. He comes to Columbia University from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, where he was a postdoctoral researcher working with Prof. Gang Chen.

His research interests include the exploration of novel materials and chemistry for advanced energy storage, thermal harvesting and management, investigation of fundamental structure-property correlations, and chemical processes in energy materials and devices. He received an MRS Postdoctoral Award (2015), a Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad (2012), the Cubicciotti Award with Honor Mention of the Electrochemical Society (2010), and the O. Cutler Shepard Award of Stanford University (2010).

500 W. 120th St., Mudd 200, MC 4701 New York, NY 10027 / Phone: 212-854-4457 / Fax: 212-854-8257 / Email:

©2012 Columbia University