Deborah S. Jin, a world-renowned physicist at CU-Boulder, recently was honored as the 2013 Laureate for North America by the L’OREAL-UNESCO for Women in Science program. Jin, whose award was announced last fall, was one of five women scientists from around the world who were honored at a March 28 award ceremony at Sorbonne University in Paris. She was named laureate for her work in ultracold gases of fermions.
Jin’s research was the first to cool down molecules so that chemical reactions could be observed in slow motion. The research helps further the understanding of molecular processes, which have tremendous relevance for medicine and new energy sources.
“Finding ways to use new knowledge coming from this field could potentially transform society,” Jin said. “The study of ultracold molecules could lead to new precision-measurement tools, new methods for quantum computing and help us better understand materials that are essential to technology.”
Jin earned a Ph.D. in physics from The University of Chicago in 1995, after graduating from Princeton with an A.B. in physics in 1990. In 1997, Jin was hired by National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), elected a Fellow of JILA, and appointed Professor Adjoint in the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado. There she began studying ultracold gases of fermions, a class of particles (including electrons) that cannot share the same quantum state. In 1999, her group cooled a gas of fermions (potassium atoms) to less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. Science Magazine hailed this accomplishment as a “Science Breakthrough of the Year.”
Jin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her other honors include the American Physical Society’s Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award, NIST’s Samuel Wesley Stratton Award, The Franklin Institute’s 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, the Service to America Medal , and the 2009 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement.