2023 Alumni Newsletter

Message from the Director

From the Director

An image incorporating a photo of Chris Xu with geometric, red circular graphics
Chris Xu, Director of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics

AEP is taking great strides in teaching and research. To meet the student demand, AEP now has a new sequence of courses on quantum technology, which is in addition to our core quantum courses but with a focus on applications. We are updating the “ancient” equipment in our freshman labs, with the support from alumni. Our faculty search in 2023 resulted in three outstanding assistant professors joining AEP, a success that is unmatched in the school history. We are pushing forward our priority research areas in quantum, materials, and biotechnologies. Our faculty form an important part of the recently announced Northeast Regional Defense Technology Hub. AEP faculty are playing active roles in the new college initiative, Engineering Innovation in Medicine.

As I embark on my second three-year term as AEP director, I look forward to talking with you about the exciting future of our school. I welcome you to reach out to me.

Save the Date

Faculty Updates

New Faculty

Three new faculty were hired in 2023, two who start in 2024, and one who will arrive in 2025. Kenji Yasudawas hired as an assistant professor in January, 2024. In July, 2024, we'll welcome Or Katz as assistant professor. Then, in 2025, we'll welcome Berit Goodge, AEP Ph.D. '22 assistant professor.


Lena F. Kourkoutis, M.S. ’06, Ph.D. ’09, an associate professor in Cornell’s School of Applied and Engineering Physics who was recognized worldwide for her advances in cryo-electron microscopy, died on June 24 at the age of 44 after living with colon cancer for about two years. Read the Chronicle Article about Kourkoutis

John Silcox, the David E. Burr Professor of Engineering Emeritus who twice served as director of the School of Ap­plied and Engineering Physics (AEP) in Cornell Engineering, died April 25 in Ithaca. Silcox was 88. Read the Chronicle article about Slicox

Faculty Awards and Recognition

  • Peter McMahon is one of the recipients of the 2022 Cornell Engineering Research Excellence Award and the 2023 Engineering Excellence in Teaching award. McMahon was also one of two winners in of the 2022 IUPAP (International Union of pure and Applied Physics) "Early Career Scientist Prize for the Commission on Laser Physics and Photonics (C17)" for his "outstanding contributions to the development of photonic computing machines, including Ising machines and optical neural networks.”
  • Jie Shan was named the Walter S. Carpenter Professor of Engineering.
  • Kin Fai Mak was named the Josephson Family Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. and received a $1.25 million grant from the Moore Foundation Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative to further his research into electron behaviors by studying two-dimensional crystals.
  • Gennady Shvets became the new director of the Laboratory of Plasma Studies in January 2023. In January 2024, Gennady traveled to Washington, D.C. (link to article currently in progress) to advocate for increased federal spending on fusion research.
  • Lena Kourkoutis was named APS fellow in 2022 for "pioneering contributions to the development of atomic-resolution cryogenic scanning transmission electron microscopy as a quantitative tool for probing electronic phases in materials and processes at interfaces between solids and liquids."
  • David Muller won the Cowley Medal and the Keithley award in 2023.
  • Greg Fuchs was promoted to Professor in July 2023. He also won a Sprout Award for collaborative engineering research for "Quantum sensing using single spin defects in gallium nitride," and a 2023 "Collaboration" EPICC award for "his research, teaching, and demonstrating a commitment to his department, university and the greater community through numerous meaningful service activities and collegial partnerships." The EPICC awards "celebrating both staff and faculty whose work exemplifies the college’s core values of excellence, purpose, innovation, community and collaboration."
  • Jeff Moses was promoted to Associate Professor in July, 2023.
  • Lois Pollack won an "Innovation" EPICC award for "recognizing a need for clearer systems within research groups for communications, establishing expectations, tracking progress, and identifying and addressing potential problems."
  • Kathryn Dimiduk, Director of the McCormick Teaching Excellence Institute interviewed James Mc Cormick, '69, M.Eng.'70, recipient of the Cornell Engineering 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • Posdoctoral researcher, Tianyu Wang, working with Professor Peter McMahon, was named one of the 2023 inaugural "Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellows," a Schmidt Futures program.

Grants and Funding

The Laboratory of Plasma Studies joined a Department of Energy-funded hub to advance fusion energy. This is a four-year, $16-million grant for the hub, which is led by Colorado State University and includes several universities, including Cornell.

Alumni Spotlights

Cheng Gift

Thanks to a generous gift from alum Dr. Arthur Chuen Hon Cheng '73, AEP was able to purchase new equipment for its student labs, such as this 500 MHz Series 3 Tektronix oscilloscope (right) that allows students to accurately investigate the characteristics of the output pulses of the Nitrogen lasers they build, as well as high-quality safety goggles, NanoSurf Naio Atomic Force Microscopes and NanoSurf Naio Scanning Tunneling Microscopes.


AEP Student Showcase

Watch our video about our first-ever AEP Student Showcase. This event provided students with an opportunity to share their work with their fellow students and learn about what others were doing.

Student spotlights

  • Kudos to two undergraduate students, Gloria Davidova EP '23 and Eleanor Richard EP '25 who were named 2023 and 2024 Optica Women Scholars respectively.
  • Benjamin Ash, '26, won a 2024 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, and Excellence in Education Foundation award to conduct research in the fields of nanofabrication and applied photonics to find new hardware systems that use light for computation or communications.
  • Kara Zielinski is a 5th-year Ph.D. student who is working to better understand life’s essential processes by developing technology to capture interactions between biological molecules. She is a member of Professor Lois Pollack’s lab.
  • Samuel G. Noles and Zachary S. Katz: Senior Spotlights, 2023
  • Leila Reimanis and Pranav Kakhandiki: Senior Spotlights 2024

Class of 2023 Award Winners

  • Samuel G. Noles: Trevor R. Cuykendall Memorial Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Achievement
  • Zoe Z. Hu and Samuel G. Noles: Paul L. Hartman Prize in Experimental Physics
  • Zachary S. Katz: Dorothy and Fred Chau Award
  • Francis J. Chen and Mads P. Berg: Henry S. Sack Memorial Award;
  • Francis J. Chen and Jake E. Lawson: David Delano Clark Award
  • Noah R. Flemens and Kaifei Kang: Williams Nichols Findley Award
  • Rebecca R. Barry: Trevor R. Cuykendall Memorial Prize for Outstanding Teaching Assistant in Engineering Physics