Women in Quantum Science and Engineering Lecture Series: Nicole Benedek

Who: Nicole Benedek, Cornell University
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
Benedum Hall 102

Upcoming Talk: Wednesday, April 5 at 11:00 a.m.

Year of Diversity at PQI

The Year of Diversity at Pitt

Last April, Provost Patricia E. Beeson announced in her closing remarks at the Senate plenary session that the upcoming academic year will be the Year of Diversity at Pitt. “It’s going to be a year that we’re going to celebrate difference; a year when we’re going to engage in conversations about difference: about cultural difference, academic difference and political differences,” she said. The Office of the Provost has therefore offered opportunity and support to organize various events to celebrate diversity in academia. At the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute (PQI), we decided to celebrate Women in Quantum Science and Engineering: outstanding researchers dedicated to furthering different fields of physics, chemistry, and engineering, and who happen to be strong, brilliant, empowering women.

Women in Quantum Science and Engineering

Women you said? Yes, in the field of Quantum Science and Engineering—as in most STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, women are a resonating minority. Even at PQI, out of our seventy members, only ten faculty members are female, which accounts for a mere 14% of the membership. To overcome this gender imbalance, it is important to convince more women—as well as other underrepresented students—to pursue majors and careers in Quantum Science and Engineering. This may be achieved by giving the opportunity to established women scientists to share their experience with the local student community. The mission statement of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute is to help unify and promote Quantum Science and Engineering in Pittsburgh. Within the framework of the Year of Diversity, we therefore propose that the efforts to fulfill this mission be directed by and for the community of Women in Quantum Science and Engineering.

A Lecture Series

PQI is therefore organizing a Lecture Series, with four local speakers and PQI members from the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering at Pitt, as well as from the Department of Materials Science at CMU. Four additional speakers have been carefully chosen for both their scientific achievements and their involvement in bridging the diversity gap in STEM. They will all give colloquium-style talks throughout the Spring semester of 2017. Spread the word, and encourage your peers or students to attend. Although we are celebrating diversity in gender, we encourage the participation of all minorities in our events! These events not only ties in the Year of Diversity, but also fulfills PQI’s mission statement by providing the opportunity to personally meet strong female role models, which may broaden the perceived perspectives in Quantum Science and Engineering.

Biography: Nicole Benedek

Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University
Dr. Benedek received her BS in Chemistry (with First Class Honors) and PhD in Chemistry and Applied Physics, both from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her doctoral work focused on first-principles theoretical studies of bonding and intermolecular interactions in a class of mixed organic-inorganic molecular crystals. As a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College London, she studied the structures of grain boundaries in complex oxides and developed a computational technique for predicting the atomic-scale structures of interfaces. Dr. Benedek continued her work on complex oxides as a postdoctoral fellow in Applied Physics at Cornell, where among other things, she discovered a new route to achieve electric field-control of the magnetization in a class of layered perovskite oxides. The Benedek group uses first-principles theoretical techniques to explore and solve fundamental problems in the solid-state chemistry of complex oxides and to elucidate the structural basis of the transport properties (ionic and thermal, primarily) of oxides. Dr. Benedek was awarded a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (Oak Ridge Associated Universities) to support her research on ionic transport in layered perovskites. She is also a recipient of a 2015 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. 


Exploring and Understanding the Lattice Dynamics of Complex Oxides: Non-equilibrium Phases, Ionic and Thermal Transport
I will discuss recent research from my group on the use of theory and computation to understand and predict the ionic and thermal transport properties of ABO3 perovskite oxides, which display myriad fascinating physical properties. The details of the origin of these properties (how they arise from the structure of the material) are often complicated, but in many cases it is possible to rationalize trends in properties as a function of crystal chemistry using simple descriptors. Is it possible to identify simple guidelines or ‘rules of thumb’ that link structure and chemistry to the ionic and thermal transport properties of perovskites? I will focus on our recent research on addressing several open questions related to the ionic and thermal transport properties of complex oxides, including understanding the role of phonons in assisting oxide ion transport in layered perovskites, elucidating the mechanisms of thermal transport in perovskites to enable design and dynamic control of thermal transport properties, and exploring light-matter interactions in perovskites to optically control thermal, electronic and magnetic properties on short timescales.

Women in Quantum Science and Engineering Lecture Series

All talks are held at 11:00 a.m. and are open to the public.
Susan Fullerton (University of Pittsburgh)
Tuesday, February 7, O'Hara Student Center

Jeanie Lau (Ohio State University)
Tuesday, February 28, Allen Hall 321

Laura Greene (Florida State University)
Tuesday, March 7, O'Hara Student Center

Noa Marom (Carnegie Mellon University)
Tuesday, March 21, Allen Hall 321

Nicole Benedek (Cornell University)
Wednesday, April 5, Benedum Hall 102

Anastassia Alexandrova (University of California Los Angeles)
Tuesday, April 11, Eberly Hall 307

Jill Millstone (University of Pittsburgh)
Tuesday, April 18, Eberly Hall 307