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Three at U. of I. win Guggenheim Fellowships

4/8/2009 | James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor 217-244-1073;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Two University of Illinois physics professors, George Gollin and Laura Greene, and visiting scholar Jabari Asim have received 2009 Guggenheim Fellowships.

They were among 180 artists, scholars and scientists to be selected in the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation’s 85th annual competition. Winners are chosen on the basis of their “stellar achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment,” the foundation said in its April 8 awards announcement.

Jabari Asim (pronounced juh-BAR-ee ah-SEEM), a scholar-in-residence in African American Studies and journalism, is a literary and cultural critic and the author of the recently published “What Obama Means,” about the cultural and political forces that helped lead to the election of an African-American president. He also is editor-in-chief of the NAACP magazine “The Crisis” and a former editor and syndicated columnist for The Washington Post.

His previous books include “The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, And Why,” and his other published works include poetry, plays, fiction and books for children.

Asim will use his fellowship to work on a book about violence in African-American communities. In doing so, he plans to look at the historical roots of violence in those communities, to examine various cultural treatments of that violence in literature, movies and other art forms, and to reflect on its implications for the future.

Gollin, a Center for Advanced Study Associate, focuses on questions concerning the structure and origins of the equations describing the interactions between matter and energy, as well as the fundamental nature of space and time at very small distance scales.

His research in experimental elementary particle physics includes experiments at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (known by its French acronym, CERN), near Geneva, Switzerland.

Gollin has been a leader in the U.S. university-based research and design effort for the International Linear Collider, and is a member of the Linear Collider Steering Group for the Americas.

During his CAS Associate appointment Gollin will design a calibration system for the “Mu2e” experiment at Fermilab. He will combine release time afforded by the CAS appointment with support from his Guggenheim fellowship to pursue a second parallel project, researching a book on diploma mills.

Greene, a Swanlund Professor and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics, is an experimentalist in condensed matter physics who studies strongly correlated electron systems and novel materials. Her research focuses on understanding the behavior of unconventional superconductors and the interfaces between metallic superconductors and compound-semiconductor heterostructures.

Much of her research investigates the role of broken symmetries and their physical manifestations in condensed matter systems, especially that of spontaneously broken-time reversal symmetry in high-temperature superconductors.

Greene will use her fellowship to carry out systematic studies of the mechanism of high-temperature superconductivity, particularly the newly discovered iron pnictides. She will employ the innovative planar tunneling and point contact Andreev reflection spectroscopy techniques developed in her laboratory to elucidate the electronic structure of these materials.

She will also work with the world’s pre-eminent crystal growers to enhance her expertise and further develop techniques for the creation of new high-temperature superconductors.

Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation of New York has awarded more than $273 million in fellowships to nearly 16,700 people. The foundation trustees selected the winners from a group of almost 3,000 applicants. Past Guggenheim fellow include Ansel Adams, Aaron Copland and Henry Kissinger.

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