NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The Rutgers Board of Governors has appointed University of Arkansas physicist Jak Chakhalian as the inaugural holder of the new Professor Claud Lovelace Endowed Chair in Experimental Physics. The announcement of the endowed chair and Chakhalian’s appointment was made at the board’s meeting today.
Chakhalian has been the Charles and Clydene Scharlau Endowed Chair and Professor of Physics at the University of Arkansas since 2012. He joined the faculty in 2006 and was named the Scharlau Endowed Chair as an associate professor in 2010. He begins his Rutgers University-New Brunswick career Sept. 1, 2016, in a five-year term that is renewable indefinitely, and will teach and undertake public service activities in addition to maintaining a high level of research.The new endowed chair is made possible by the late Claud W. Lovelace, an esteemed professor in Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences and a renowned expert in the field of physics known as string theory. Endowed chairs, which continue to be a fundraising priority for the university, provide a permanent source of funding and are among the highest honors a university can bestow upon a faculty member.
Lovelace, who died in 2012, pledged $1.5 million toward the new faculty position – the first gift toward a $27 million challenge grant to establish 18 endowed chairs at the university during the “Our Rutgers, Our Future” fundraising campaign. Because the creation of an academic chair requires a total endowment of $3 million, an anonymous donor matched Lovelace’s $1.5 million pledge to help Rutgers recruit and retain outstanding faculty in a wide range of academic disciplines, including business education and the sciences.
“We are delighted Professor Chakhalian will continue his internationally recognized career at Rutgers as holder of the Lovelace Endowed Chair and add to the prestige of our acclaimed Department of Physics and Astronomy,” said Richard L. Edwards, chancellor, Rutgers-New Brunswick.
“These esteemed positions attract world-class scholars, strengthen academic disciplines and enhance Rutgers’ reputation. Faculty selected to hold chairs draw outstanding junior faculty, top graduate students and increased funding for research.”
Chakhalian's research is related to one of the most intriguing fields of modern condensed matter physics called artificial quantum materials with strongly correlated electrons. His group has been engaged in the growth of artificial quantum materials as atomically thin films and multilayered structures composed of exotic magnets and insulators, superconductors and ferroelectrics with the aim to design novel quantum structures which cannot exist in bulk materials. He hopes to create new quantum nanostructures for use as a foundation for the next generation of ultra-fast communication and computational devices.
Chakhalian, who earned his doctorate at the University of British Columbia and was a Max Planck Society Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany, said his near-term goal at Rutgers is to establish an internationally competitive laboratory for artificial quantum materials and advanced spectroscopies. “I want to lead a group which provides a diverse and exciting research and educational environment for students and early stage researchers for future advanced careers in condensed matter physics and material science,” he said.
“As mid- and long-term goals, I would like to work with colleagues to create at Rutgers a state-of-the-art, collaboration-driven hub for rationally designed quantum materials with outstanding properties,” Chakhalian added.
Prior to his recruitment, Chakhalian had presented at department seminars and colloquia. “When I learned about this position, I was truly excited about the opportunity to join colleagues, some of whom I have known for years,” he said. “One of the decisive factors was Rutgers’ unique combination of talented researchers spanning quantum materials synthesis, state-of-the-art experimental facilities and outstanding theory. It’s hard to think of any other university in the country where such synergy would be present.”
Established in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public research universities, educating more than 65,000 students and serving people throughout New Jersey. Rutgers University-New Brunswick is the only public institution in New Jersey represented in the prestigious Association of American Universities. Rutgers is also a member of the Big Ten Conference and its academic counterpart, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation – a consortium of 15 world-class research universities.