Alivisatos Wins National Medal of Science


WASHINGTON, DC – The White House has announced this year’s nine winners of the prestigious the National Medal of Science and among them is Greek-American Dr.  Paul Alivisatos, Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The award is America’s highest honor for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research.

“Science and technology are fundamental to solving some of our Nation’s biggest challenges,” President Obama said in a statement, adding that “the knowledge produced by these Americans today will carry our country’s legacy of innovation forward and continue to help countless others around the world. Their work is a testament to American ingenuity.”

The medals will be presented in 2016 at a White House ceremony.

Alivisatos. 56, is considered “one of the fathers of nanoscience.”

According to a release by the Berkeley Lab, he is renowned for his ground-breaking research in quantum dots and other artificial nanostructures, holds appointments with the University of California Berkeley as the Samsung Distinguished Chair in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and is the Director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at Berkeley. He is also a scientific founder of two prominent nanotechnology companies, Nanosys and Quantum Dot Corp,” now a part of Life Tech.

Alivisatos is the 15th Berkeley Lab scientist to win the Medal, which was established by Congress in 1959 as a Presidential Award.

Alivisatos was born in Chicago on November 12, 1959 and lived there until the age of 10, when his family moved to Athens, Greece and lived there through high school.

According to his official biography, “Alivisatos has said of his years in Greece that it was a great experience for him because he had to learn the Greek language and culture then catch up with the more advanced students.”

He said, “When I found something very interesting it was sometimes a struggle for me to understand it the very best that I could…That need to work harder became an important motivator for me.”

“Alivisatos returned to the United States to attend the University of Chicago where in 1981 he earned a BA in Chemistry with honors. He attended graduate school at UC Berkeley, graduating with a PhD in Chemical Physics in 1986. He went to AT&T Bell Labs as a post-doctoral fellow and returned to Berkeley in 1988 as an assistant professor of chemistry. He was promoted to associate professor in 1993 and full professor in 1995. He served as UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Professor from 1998 to 2001, and added an appointment as a professor of materials science and engineering in 1999,” the biography continues.

In 1991 he arrived at the Berkeley Lab and joined the staff of the Materials Sciences Division. He became its director in 2002 and held that position for six years. In 2001 he was appointed to be the head a new U.S. Department of Energy center for nanoscience, the Molecular Foundry, which is hosted at Berkeley Lab and directed research at the Foundry until 2005. From 2005 to 2007 he served as Berkeley Lab’s Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Science.

“Paul Alivisatos has been a world leader in the synthesis of artificial nanostructures and quantum dot technology, and one of the principal scientific drivers behind the use of nanoscience technologies to create a new generation of solar photovoltaic cells,” Steve Chu said when he named Alivisatos as Berkeley Lab’s deputy director.

When UC President Mark Yudof announced Alivisatos’ appointment as Berkeley Lab director, he said, “Paul Alivisatos’ scientific expertise and management experience have earned the respect and confidence of the lab staff, the academic community, the DOE, and other federal and industrial sponsors. I am confident that Paul is the right leader for the Berkeley Lab at this pivotal point in its history. Under his leadership, Berkeley Lab will continue to make great contributions in science and to the world around us.”

Alivisatos has proven to be a great scientist and a builder. During his tenure the Berkeley Lab began “an ambitious period of strategic scientific infrastructure renewal. During his tenure, the Lab began construction on new buildings for computational research, buildings efficiency, solar energy research, and biological sciences,” his biography notes.



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