Boston College Professor Krzysztof Kempa of the physics department was recently elected to be a 2016 fellow of the American Physical Society. This is an extremely prestigious recognition, as only around 0.5% of the APS’ 50,000 members are awarded a fellowship. This honor was bestowed upon Professor Kempa by his scientific peers “in recognition of exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise through outstanding research, important applications, leadership or service, or contributions to education,” according to a statement by Boston College News.
Professor Kempa has been recognized by the APS Division of Condensed Matter Physics specifically for his work on electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with novel materials and architectures (looking particularly at optical and plasmonic effects).
Kempa was lauded by the APS in its citation for “pioneering contributions to understanding basic physics of plasmons in condensed matter systems.” The fellowship contains no financial reward, and is primarily a peer-awarded honor.
Professor Kempa’s work in the physics field concentrates in plasmonics. He describes his field as also leading “to the discovery of metamaterials, a new class of artificial materials having no natural analogues, and allowing for an unusual control over the waves, with perhaps the best known example, the ‘cloaking device.’”
This area of study also contains a variety of interdisciplinary applications in fields such as solar energy harvesting, environmental studies, and medicine. With these applications, the Professor’s work can help create innovations such as novel solar cells, pollution detectors, and possible therapies and/or diagnostics for cancer.
Professor Kempa is also currently working on a collaboration with the Physics and Biology Departments of BC and MIT to develop physics-based treatments for genetic and infectious diseases.
Professor Kempa attributes a great portion of his success to BC, commenting that, “my APS Fellowship is also a recognition of BC’s commitment to the support of Sciences in general, and Physics in particular.”
When asked to name his favorite part of teaching at BC, Professor Kempa is quick to point to the enduring thanks and gratitude of his many past students. He says he enjoys helping his students overcome their “physics-angst,” as well as hearing of their acceptance to graduate programs and success in their post-graduate work.
Professor Kempa’s recognition as an AFS Fellow is an incredible honor not only for him as a world-renowned professor, but for the entire BC community as a reminder of the school’s commitment to strong scientific inquiry and excellence in academia.