William E. and Diane M. Spicer Young Investigator Award

William E. and Diane M. Spicer Young Investigator AwardWilliam E. Spicer (1929-2004) was an esteemed member of the international scientific community as a teacher and researcher in electrical engineering, applied physics and materials science. Bill spent 40 years as a professor at Stanford where he pioneered the technique of ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy and its subsequent expansion into the use of synchrotron radiation. In 1972, Bill together with Sebastian Doniach founded the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Project which evolved into today's SSRL. He was a prolific author with over 700 works and the recipient of many honors and awards including the Lifetime Mentor Award by the AAAS in 2000, reflecting his tireless effort on the behalf of under-represented minorities and women. Though retired for some years, Bill continued to actively advise students at SSRL up until his death.

In honor of his many professional and personal contributions to our community, SSRL and the SSRL Users' Organization established the William E. Spicer Young Investigator Award in 2004. The award was modified in 2009 to accept additional donations to acknowledge and honor Diane M. Spicer, who passed away in April 2009.

William E. and Diane M. Spicer Young Investigator AwardThe Spicer Young Investigator Award recognizes new investigators who have made important technical or scientific contributions that benefit from or are beneficial to SSRL or to the lightsource community overall. The $1,000 award is open to senior graduate students and those within seven years of entry into their professional scientific field at the time of nomination. SSRL users and staff are eligible for this award (joint or group awards are not encouraged). The Award will presented at the next Annual Users' Meeting, to be held September 25-29, 2023.

Submit nominations by JULY 1 via email to Cathy Knotts. Nomination packages should summarize the technical or scientific contributions of the candidate, including the candidate's curriculum vitae, publications, and a letter of nomination (supporting letters are also encouraged). 

Awardee names are added to a plaque displayed in the SSRL User Research Administration Office. The following people have received the William E. and Diane M. Spicer Young Investigator Award:

  • Angel Tonatiuh Garcia Esparza, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2023)
  • Saket Bagde, Cornell University/University of Texas El Paso (2022)
  • Ilya Belopolski, Princeton University (2021) - Discovery of Magnetic Weyl Semimetals
  • Peter Chung, University of Chicago/University of Southern Callifornia (2020)
  • Hans-Georg Steinrück, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2019)
  • Ming Yi, Rice University (formerly University of California Berkeley) (2018)
  • Kathryn Hastie, The Scripps Research Institute (2017)
  • Yijin Liu, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2016)
  • Feng Lin, Virginia Tech (formerly LBNL) (2015)
  • Ying Diao, University of Illinois (formerly Stanford) (2014)
  • Jonathan Rivnay, Centre Microelectronique de Provence (2013)
  • James Cryan, Stanford University/SLAC (2012)
  • Stefan Mannsfeld, TU Dresden (formerly Stanford/SLAC) (2011)
  • Jeffrey Lee, The Scripps Research Institute (2010)
  • Yulin Chen, University of Oxford (formerly Stanford/SIMES) (2009)
  • R. Joseph Kline, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (2008)
  • Hugh Harris, University of Adelaide (2007)
  • Adrian Cavalieri, Max Planck Institute (formerly University of Michigan) (2006, joint award)
  • David Fritz, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (formerly University of Michigan) (2006, joint award)
  • Stephane Richard, CureMatch Inc. (formerly Salk Institute for Biological Studies) (2005)
  • N. Peter Armitage, Johns Hopkins University (2004)

Saket Bagde was selected to receive the 2022 Spicer Young Investigator Award for deciphering how nature produces some antibiotics. Bagde is being recognized for his successful efforts to describe the structures and mechanisms of several biologically important enzymes. “I’m very excited to receive this award,” says Bagde, a graduate student in Cornell University's Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. “Recognitions like this remind me to take a pause and appreciate all the amazing people I’ve worked with. Together, our skills have led to the development of something that is going to help people.” 

The 2021 Spicer Award was presented to Ilya Belopolski, Princeton University, for his seminal contributions in innovatively utilizing synchrotron light and ARPES technology leading to the discovery and understanding of Weyl semimetals and Weyl magnets and a wider range of topological material and quantum phenomena. "It's such an honor to be recognized thsi way," Belopolski said, noting that much of his research draws directly on early versions of the synchrotron techniques pioneered by the award's namesake, Stanford University Professor William Spicer, one of the founders of SSRL. "I'm proud to be part of this great scientific tradition."

The 2020 Spicer Award was presented to Peter Chung, the Kadanoff-Rice Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago, for his pathbreaking contributions to the study of proteins involved in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and for mentoring the next generation of synchrotron scientists. Chung said SSRL was the ideal place to work on a problem that spans everything from polymer physics to neurobiology. SSRL is unique because it really fosters people from different disciplines to come in and work together to do science,” Chung said. “I was fortunate to actually get a career started at SSRL.”

The 2019 Spicer Award was presented to Hans-Georg Steinrück. “This award is a reflection of my wonderful coworkers and collaborators at SSRL including Chuntian Cao, Christopher Takacs and Michael Toney. I also want to acknowledge the support at SSRL, as well as sector 8 at APS where we did our ion velocity measurements. I’ve been very fortunate to have collaborated with people from various backgrounds. Input from these scientists can really help solve some of the energy science-related problems,” said Steinrück.

In 2018, Ming Yiassistant professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University, received the Spicer Award in recognition of her foundational superconductor research. Ming said the award was of special significance to her because she thinks of Bill Spicer as her academic grandfather. A Stanford professor of 40 years and researcher in electrical engineering, applied physics and materials science, Spicer mentored students until his death in 2004. “This is a very humbling honor for my scientific endeavors as I continue my academic career, and I deeply appreciate SSRL’s commitment to nurturing young researchers in the frontiers of scientific exploration,” Yi said. “I am very grateful to all the mentors who have given me advice, support and encouragement, and who have inspired me and still inspire me every day.

Nominations submitted to Cathy Knotts by the July 1 deadline will be reviewed by the selection committee. In situations where the selection committee identifies more than one exceptional candidate, they may elect to hold on to nomination packages for consideration in the subsequent year (upon confirmation from the nominators who have the option to update the package or keep the existing letters). The Award will be presented at the Users' Meeting. The awardee will be asked to give a presentation on his/her research during the Users' Conference.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to forward your nomination and for your continuing support of the SSRL Users' Organization.

Submit nominations by JULY 1.


Donations towards the William E. and Diane M. Spicer Award fund can be sent by check, made payable to "Stanford University" (noting "Spicer Award" on the memo line), to SSRL c/o Cathy Knotts, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, 2575 Sand Hill Road MS 99, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Alternatively, if you would like to make a gift by credit card, please phone 866-543-0243 (toll free) Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST to reach a customer service representative who can help you. Please specify that your gift is designated for "The SSRL Spicer Award." Callers from outside the US, please phone 650-724-0627 (not toll free).

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