Justin Jankunas Doctoral Dissertation Award in Chemical Physics

In 2015, the APS Division of Chemical Physics (DCP) renamed the division’s new doctoral thesis award as the Justin Jankunas Doctoral Dissertation Award in Chemical Physics. The renaming, established with friends, family, and colleagues of Justin Jankunas, honors his memory and work as a promising young chemical physicist at the beginning of a promising career. Justin died tragically in a motorcycle accident in May 2015 at the age of 30. In his short life, Justin published 19 papers in molecular reaction dynamics from work as a grad student at Stanford University and one year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The annual award recognizes the best doctoral dissertation in any area of chemical physics and consists of:

  • A stipend of $1,000;
  • A certificate citing the contributions of the recipient;
  • A travel allowance of up to $1,000 for the awardee to travel to the APS March Meeting to receive the award and give an oral presentation describing his or her doctoral research.

Please honor Justin’s legacy with your donation to support the endowment of this award. Your gift will help to encourage and recognize other promising chemical physicists.

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Giving by Mail

If you prefer to contribute by mail, please make your check payable to the American Physical Society and note "Jankunas" in the memo. Mail your gift to Irene I. Lukoff, Director of Development, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. For further information about giving, visit Giving Options.

About Justin Jankunas

Justin Jankunas“He was a wizard in the laboratory working indefatigably on understanding in detail the simplest of all chemical reactions, H + D2 → HD + H … he went way beyond the call of duty to provide teaching support to a number of courses, being a teaching assistant in 10 different courses … When he graduated he received the Linus Pauling teaching award from my Department as well as an award given to the top physical chemistry PhD.”

Prof. Richard Zare
Chemistry Department, Stanford University


“He joined my lab just as our new merged-beam apparatus had become operational, and he was there for the first observation of cold collisions between metastable neon and ammonia. He made that experiment flourish and produced, in just 15 months, enough data for almost 10 articles in scientific journals … His thorough understanding of chemical physics, combined with his fearless approach to experimentation indeed made him the ultimate postdoc.”

Prof. Dr. Andreas Osterwalder
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)


“My favorite part of working with him … was his sheer joy of discovery coupled with his love of doing experiments … We would have a wide-ranging discussion about different projects to do in our lab and often talked about science philosophy. Justin’s work ethic was infectious.”

DCP Chair, David Chandler
Sandia National Laboratory

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