PULLMAN, Wash.–Washington State University optical physicist David Citrin has been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award provides $500,000 over a five-year period to scientists who show outstanding potential for leadership.
Citrin’s award is the third similar award to a member of WSU’s Physics Department and College of Sciences in the last five years. He is among 60 independent scientists and engineers in the second annual round of the awards. Candidates are nominated by agencies throughout the federal government. Citrin was one of three scientists nominated by the Office of Naval Research. He will receive the award from President Clinton at a White House ceremony Nov. 3.
The award announcement noted his work in “comprehensive theory of exciton-polariton in semiconductor nanostructures, making possible new ways of controlling high speed optical switching devices of greatly enhanced bandwidth. His research may lead to ultrafast optical networks.”
“I am surprised, excited and very happy,” said Citrin. “The award will help me expand and support my semiconductor optics theory group. It will help us reach our research goals by providing financial support for doctoral students, as well as help us to upgrade our computational facilities.” Citrin’s group pursues theoretical computer modeling of short pulses of light to determine how they affect and pass through semiconductors.
The group is interested in the fundamental phenomena as well as applications, according to Citrin. He expects his work may find application in such areas as the optical fiber telecommunication system. This system, which currently provides trans-oceanic telephone services, is expected to be 10 to 50 times faster in its next generation. His work may provide the fast switches required to operate the system at the proposed increased volumes and speeds.
Citrin received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1992. He spent a year and a half at the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart, Germany, and two years as a research fellow at the University of Michigan’s Center for Ultrafast Optical Science. He came to WSU as assistant professor in 1995.

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