Luisa Whittaker-Brooks 2023 MRS Award
Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, associate professor of inorganic/materials chemistry, is the recipient of the 2023 MRS Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award for cutting-edge work on the control of structural phase transitions, spins, and thermal-dependent electronic interactions in organic-inorganic quantum well heterostructures.
Professor Whittaker-Brooks noted "The Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award by the Materials Research Society (MRS) recognizes outstanding, interdisciplinary scientific work in materials research by a young scientist or engineer. This is a highly competitive award, a flagship recognition by the MRS during their annual spring meeting. Most of their past awardees are members of the National Academy of Sciences and eminent materials field leaders. Thus, winners of the Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award show exceptional promise as developing leaders in the materials area.
I was extremely surprised when I received the call from the President of the MRS, Dr. Sabrina Sartori, announcing that I had won the award! She said I won the award “For cutting-edge work on the control of structural phase transitions, spins, and thermal-dependent electronic interactions in organic-inorganic quantum well heterostructures.” While talking to her on the phone, I was reflecting, and the only thing I could think of was that this recognition was only possible because of the hard work and the exceptional research that my students have done throughout these years –they are the real winners! You usually don’t see a lot of underrepresented scientists being recognized with the top award from society. I hope my story can inspire an uprising of underrepresented superstars who often struggle with imposter syndrome and feel they aren’t good enough at what they do.
During the MRS meeting in San Francisco, one of the security staff approached me and asked if he could take a picture with me so he could show his 8-year-old daughter that she could become a scientist and do incredible work as an African American female. This was my highlight of the meeting and the reason why representation matters so much."
Peter Stang, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry, wrote: “Professor Whittaker-Brooks’ research entails important, novel areas in materials science and nanotechnology both at the fundamental and applied areas. For example, her group is interested in energy beyond fossil fuels, particularly solar energy conversion, batteries, and electronics. She and her group are fabricating multimodal energy device(s) that may scavenge different kinds of energy for driving micro- and nano-systems. Her group also aims to provide an understanding of the electronic, magnetic, structural, etc., modifications of new ensemble materials. This is both of great fundamental interest and societal relevance and importance.”
The Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award recognizes outstanding, interdisciplinary scientific work in materials research by a young scientist or engineer. The award recipient must show exceptional promise as a developing leader in the materials area.
Read here more about The Whittaker group’s research.
Video: MRS Award Spotlight - Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, U Chemistry