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Minjung Son wins 2021 Justin Jankunas Award

Categories: Alumni, Awards

Son (PhD '20), an alum of the Schlau-Cohen Lab, is now a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Minjung Son (PhD ’20), was recently named the recipient of the 2021 Justin Jankunas Doctoral Dissertation Award in Chemical Physics. Given annually the Justin Jankunas award recognizes doctoral thesis research of outstanding quality and achievement in chemical physics. Son, an alumna of Professor Gabriela Schlau-Cohen‘s lab, was selected from a pool of three finalists as this year’s winner.

“The committee appreciated especially the comprehensive nature of [Son’s] dissertation,” said David Osborn, Secretary/Treasurer of the American Physical Society’s Division of Chemical Physics. “[Her] breakthrough of broadband excitation, coupled with a more reproducible environment, enabled a holistic approach that illuminated the role of carotenoids and membrane structure in the chemical physics of photosynthetic light harvesting.  As one member of the committee put it ‘this dissertation has it all:  great writing, coherent theme, experimental development, and new physics.'”

Originally named the Doctoral Thesis Award in Chemical Physics, this award was first awarded to Alexander J. White in 2015. It has since been renamed the Justin Jankunas Doctoral Dissertation Award in Chemical Physics. The renaming, established with friends, family, and colleagues of Justin Jankunas, honors his memory and work as a promising young chemical physicist at the beginning of a promising career. Justin Jankunas obtained his doctorate from Professor Richard Zare at Stanford in 2013 and then worked with Professor Andreas Osterwalder at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne until 2015. In this short period, he published 19 papers in molecular reaction dynamics until his tragic death in a motorcycle accident in 2015. Justin’s family, friends, and colleagues have established this award to encourage and recognize other promising chemical physicists.