Graduate Awards

2016 Montag Physics Award

Roman Baglay has been awarded the Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award for the 2016-2017 academic year. The Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award is awarded annually to an exceptional graduate student for accomplishments in physics research. Recipients receive an additional $2000 to their stipend the year they receive the award. The award is granted to the student (US Citizens only) with the most significant accomplishment in research. The Montag Graduate Physics Award was established by James L. Montag (58C) and his late wife Ethel in honor of Prof. Fereydoon Family, for his mentoring and academic influence of their son Lee Montag (85C). The 2014-2015 academic year was the first year this award was given.
Roman Baglay 

Roman Baglay recently published two papers in the Journal of Chemical Physics that has attracted considerable attention and influenced the field of polymer physics. Starting with his Communications in 2015 Journal of Chemical Physics 143, 111101, “Experimentally Determined Profile of Local Glass Transition Temperature Across a Glassy-Rubbery Polymer Interface with a Tg Difference of 80 K”, Roman has experimentally shown that the local glass transition temperature (Tg) profile across dissimilar polymer-polymer interfaces between glassy and rubbery domains are exceptionally broad, spanning hundreds of nanometers, and asymmetric with respect to the composition profile. These results challenge the traditional textbook view of polymer blends, specifically within nanostructured materials, and has spurred theoretical research by others in the field. Roman’s work has been highlighted both by the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the third decadal study by the National Science Foundation, Frontiers in Polymer Science and Engineering 2017 report.

Roman is also a co-author on two other papers from his work at Emory, and another is currently under review. He has also contributed to two chapters in the recent book on Polymer Glasses (CRC Press, 2016), edited by Connie Roth. Roman obtained his B.S. in Physics from New York University where he studied quasi-crystalline waveguides and, in conjuncture with ESPCI Paris, worked on developing an apparatus that mimics flock assembly of swarming starlings with self propelled walking particles. Roman has given many presentations at national and international scientific conferences including the American Physical Society (APS) March meeting, the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Polymer Physics, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) annual conference about his research at Emory University.


Biophysical Society Award

Yan Yan
In Feb 2016, Yan Yan was awarded the "Student Research Achievement Award" and the "Education Committee Travel Award", two competitive recognitions by the Biophysical Society.


2015 Montag Physics Award

Skanda Vivek has been awarded the Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award for the 2015-2016 academic year.  The Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award is awarded annually to an exceptional graduate student for accomplishments in physics research.  Recipients receive an additional $2000 to their stipend the year they receive the award.  The award is granted to the student (US Citizens only) with the most significant accomplishment in research.  The Montag Graduate Physics Award was established by James L. Montag (58C) and his late wife Ethel in honor of Prof. Fereydoon Family, for his mentoring and academic influence of their son Lee Montag (85C).  The 2014-2015 academic year was the first year this award was given.

Skanda Vivek Skanda Vivek recently published the paper "Measuring and overcoming limits of the Saffman-Delbruck model for soap film viscosities," S. Vivek and E.R. Weeks, PLoS ONE 10, e0121981 (2015).  In this paper, Skanda examined the Brownian motion of small tracer particles trapped in a soap film.  The Saffman-Delbruck model, along with its extensions by later authors, can relate the single-particle diffusivity to the soap film thickness, but this breaks down for thicker films.  Skanda found that the diffusive motion is faster than expected for films about five times thicker than the tracer particle diameter, suggesting that thick films seem more like three-dimensional fluids as far as the tiny particles are concerned.  Intriguingly, Skanda showed that if one measures correlations between the motion of pairs of particles, the correlations are still related to the soap film thickness for both thick and thin films.  This allows one to measure the viscosity of a soap film no matter what the thickness.  All of this work required precise measurements of soap film thicknesses, which was done by a special apparatus that Skanda built which uses infrared absorption to measure the thickness.  Overall, Skanda's results indicate that for tiny particles in thick films, they move as if the film is really an infinitely thick three-dimensional fluid, whereas the flow fields at long length scales are always quasi-two-dimensional no matter how thick the film may be.

Skanda is also a co-author on two other papers, both stemming from work he has done at Emory.  Skanda is a native U.S. citizen, although he grew up in India.  He has a B.S. degree in physics, chemistry, and math from St. Josephs College, Bangalore, India.  He then earned a M.S. in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India before coming to Emory in Fall 2011.  He has presented his work several times at the American Physical Society March Meeting.  He has served as the treasurer, vice president, and now the president of the Young Emory Physicists club


Shirley Chan Student Travel Award

Vijay Singh
Feb 2015, Vijay Singh was awarded the Shirley Chan Student Travel Award of the Division of Biological Physics (DBIO) of the American Physical Society. The award is presented for the quality of the work, and the awardees are selected from among the abstracts of first-author student papers submitted to the biological physics sessions of APS March Meetings.

2014 Montag Physics Award

Laura Gray has been awarded the inaugural Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award for the 2014-2015 academic year.  The Jim and Ethel Montag Graduate Physics Award is awarded annually to an exceptional graduate student for accomplishments in physics research.  Recipients receive an additional $2000 to their stipend the year they receive the award.  The award is granted to the student (US Citizens only) with the most significant accomplishment in research.  The 2014-2015 academic year represents the first year this award is being given.  The Montag Graduate Physics Award was established by James L. Montag (58C) and his late wife Ethel in honor of Prof. Fereydoon Family, for his mentoring and academic influence of their son Lee Montag (85C).

Laura Gray

Laura Gray recently published an exciting first-author paper in the journal Soft Matter, one of the top rated journals in the area of soft condensed matter physics:  L.A.G. Gray and C.B. Roth, "Stability of Polymer Glasses Vitrified Under Stress," Soft Matter 2014, 10, 1572-1578.

For this study Laura designed and built an apparatus that allowed her to control the stress applied to polymer films as they are cooled and form a glass.  She found that stress applied during cooling can alter the glassy state that is formed.  This work provides insight into the nature of the glass transition and non-equilibrium materials common to polymers, colloids, granular materials, and molecular glasses, as well as having implications for polymer processing.  Since this article was published in January 2014, it has already received two citations.

In addition, Laura has an earlier first-author publication from her Ph.D. work published in 2012 in the journal Macromolecules, and two publications from her undergraduate research at North Carolina State University.  Laura obtained her B.S. in Physics from North Carolina State University in 2009, including a B.A. in History.  Laura also has strong interest in teaching, having been selected to develop and teach a course as part of the Laney Graduate School ORDER program (On Recent Discoveries by Emory Researchers) during the 2012-2013 academic year.  In 2012, Laura Gray was selected to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting at Lindau, Germany on Lake Constance.  Based on her research accomplishments, she was selected to be among 550 young researchers from all over the world to "hobnob" with more than 25 Physics Nobel Laureates.  Most recently, Laura was chair of the Gordon Research Seminar meeting on Polymer Physics, the satellite meeting for graduate students and postdocs preceding the main Gordon Research Conference.  Laura has given many presentations at international scientific conferences, from the American Physical Society (APS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) annual meetings.


Frank J. Padden Jr. Award

Congratulations to Justin Pye who has won the 2014 Frank J. Padden, Jr. Award from the Division of Polymer Physics (DPOLY) at the American Physical Society (APS) March meeting for "Excellence in Polymer Physics Research".

The award is given to the graduate student who gives the best presentation at a special DPOLY symposium at the APS March meeting. The March meeting was held in Denver, Colorado, from March 3-7, 2014.

The Padden symposium consists of talks by eight graduate students from top research groups in polymer physics, selected from nominations that highlight the student's research accomplishments. The Padden symposium is extremely well attended and it is considered an honor just to be among the speakers. The Frank J. Padden Jr. Award for senior graduate students in polymer physics has been awarded since 1995 and many of the recipients have gone on to be successful research faculty in top departments. Link: http://www.aps.org/units/dpoly/awards/padden.cfm

Justin Pye
Justin Pye obtained his B.S. in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008. He has three first author publications from Emory, as well as a second author publication. His research accomplishments on the glass transition (Tg) and physical aging in thin polymer films has attracted a great deal of attention in a short period of time. Justin's 2011 Physical Review Letters paper demonstrating two simultaneous mechanisms causing Tg reductions in ultrathin free-standing films already has 24 citations, and his 2010 Macromolecules paper showing reduced physical aging rates consistent with a gradient in dynamics near the free surface has 32 citations.