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2 ASU professors awarded inaugural Navrotsky Early Career Award


Side-by-side portraits of ASU assistant professors Joseph O'Rourke (left) and Qijun Hong.

Joseph O'Rourke (left) and Qijun Hong

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July 26, 2023

Two Arizona State University professors in the STEM fields were named the inaugural recipients of the Navrotsky Early Career Award.

The award is part of a gift from Alexandra Navrotsky, Regents Professor and director of Arizona State University’s Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe, to ensure the long-term growth of materials science.

Qijun Hong, an assistant professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, and Joseph O’Rourke, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, received the award based on their early career accomplishments in the field of materials research.

“The Center for Materials of the Universe is at the forefront of materials science research," said Kenro Kusumi, dean of natural sciences at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This is a great opportunity for professors Hong and O’Rourke to innovate their research through a collaboration between the sciences and engineering.”

Through the Navrotsky Early Career Award, Hong and O’Rourke will build the field of solid-state science and materials research at ASU. The funding they receive will enable them to continue their teaching while encouraging innovation that bridges 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.

The center unites cosmology, astrophysics, astronomy, planetary science and exploration, mineralogy and petrology, materials science and engineering, chemistry, physics and biology to form cross-disciplinary research teams that address grand questions of complex chemistries, explore the evolution of planets and expedite humanity’s next step in the universe.

“Alex is my role model and mentor as a professor; she is the primary reason I joined ASU. The influence she has had on shaping the trajectory of my career is beyond measure. I am profoundly grateful for the unwavering support and encouragement throughout the journey and the opportunity to collaborate with her here at ASU, where she exemplifies leadership in science and serves as a guiding light in life,” Hong said. 

“I feel truly honored to be selected for this award. I am eagerly looking forward to the coming years, as I hope to continue collaborating with Alex. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.”

During the two-year term, Hong and O’Rourke will pursue and promote new ideas, discoveries and technologies in the broad field of materials, advocate for and seek new funding opportunities and provide outreach to expand these leading-edge fields.

“I feel hugely honored! The pressure I feel to live up to this award is similar to that found in Earth’s core. If there’s anything I’ve learned at ASU, it’s that collaborating widely can turbocharge scientific progress,” O’Rourke said. “I’m so excited to work with colleagues in Materials of the Universe on ambitious projects about Earth and other planets.”

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