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2 ASU professors appointed as first-ever Navrotsky Professors of Materials Research


Side-by-side portraits of ASU professors Candace Chan (left) and Dan (Sang-Heon) Shim.

Candace Chan (left) and Dan (Sang-Heon) Shim.

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May 03, 2022

Last year, Alexandra Navrotsky, the director of Arizona State University’s Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe, made a $10 million gift bequest to the university to ensure the long-term growth of materials science. As part of these efforts, two ASU professors have recently been appointed the first-ever Navrotsky Professors of Materials Research.

Candace Chan, an associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, and Dan (Sang-Heon) Shim, a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, were selected for the professorship based on their significant contributions in the field of materials research.

“The Center for Materials of the Universe is at the forefront of materials science research, and home to some of the brightest minds in the field,” said Kenro Kusumi, dean of natural sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “The Navrotsky Professorships will provide the opportunity for these outstanding faculty members to not only innovate in their research but also grow in their careers. As the first two to receive this prestigious appointment, I am eager to see what exciting new discoveries professors Chan and Shim make in the next two years.”

Through the Navrotsky Professorship of Materials Research, Chan and Shim will serve to build the field of solid state science and materials research at ASU. The funding they receive will also enable them to step into a leadership role, while encouraging materials research innovation and collaborations that bridge the Department of Physics, the School of Molecular Sciences, the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.

“It is thrilling to honor such wonderful colleagues,” Navrotsky said.

During the two-year term, they will pursue and promote new ideas, discoveries and technologies, advocate for and seek new funding opportunities and provide outreach to expand research in the broad field of materials.

“Dr. Navrotsky’s research has left an indelible mark on the field of materials science, and we are extremely grateful for her generosity to ensure the future of the discipline,” said Lenore Dai, director of the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “We are excited for the positive impacts this professorship will continue to have at ASU and in the scientific community at large through stimulating research collaborations, continuous innovation and opportunities for workforce development.”

“I congratulate professors Chan and Shim on their selection as the inaugural awardees for the Navrotsky Professorships,” said Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “These professorships will provide these faculty the ability to widen the aperture for the kinds of exploratory research projects that are not easily funded by federal agencies, but have the potential for being transformational for materials research.”

The Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe unites cosmology, astrophysics, astronomy, planetary science and exploration, and mineralogy and petrology with materials science and engineering, chemistry, physics and biology to address grand questions of the complex chemistries and evolution of planets. The center strives to attract and inspire scientists across all science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to explore alien and extreme conditions and environments with the expectation of discovering new, useful materials and understanding the formation and evolution of planets.

“The idea of the Center for Materials of the Universe by Professor Navrotsky is revolutionary in that we can understand distant planets outside of our solar system by studying chemistry under a wide range of pressure, temperature and composition,” Shim said. “I have been extremely lucky to participate in the exciting intellectual journey in the Center for Materials of the Universe from the beginning. The Navrotsky professorship will allow me to pursue some of the new research directions identified from the first few years of the Materials of the Universe initiative.”

“I am truly honored to receive this appointment. Professor Navrotsky has touched all areas of materials research with her innovative methods for understanding the fundamental thermodynamic properties of materials. Indeed, it seems like she has studied all the materials that exist in the universe at one point or another,” Chan said. “I look forward to working with her and the other members of the Center for Materials of the Universe on the challenges that face us as we strive toward engineering materials solutions for decarbonization, sustainable and clean energy, and critical materials needed for technologically important applications.”

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