The LeRoy Apker Award is given for outstanding research accomplishments in physics by an undergraduate. Two categories are recognized, one for an undergraduate at an institution that grants the PhD, and the other for an undergraduate at an institution that does not grant the PhD. As reported in last month’s APS News
, the selection committee first picks a number of finalists from each category, who then meet for a day of interviews with the committee before the recipients are chosen.
This year’s recipient in the PhD category is Sujit Datta of the University of Pennsylvania. Working in the lab of Alan (Charlie) Johnson, he conducted his senior thesis research on nanoscale physics, primarily the properties of graphene. He used scanning probe microscopy to show how the surface potential of few-layer graphene sheets depends on the number of layers. Datta is now pursuing his PhD as a graduate student at Harvard.
The recipient in the non-PhD category is Byron Drury of Haverford College. His senior-year research, conducted under the supervision of Peter Love, was in the area of quantum information theory. He used
elegant Lie Algebraic techniques to factorize general n-qubit operations into a product of elementary unitary operators that act on only one or two qubits. Drury was awarded a Churchill Scholarship, with which he is spending a year at Cambridge University before pursuing his PhD at MIT.