Malek Wins 2024 Simon Prize

May 13 2024

The Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics is proud to announce that Dr. Stephanie Malek is the winner of the 2024 Simon Prize for the most outstanding dissertation in the APAM Department.

Stephanie Malek received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in October 2023, advised by Professor Nanfang Yu. Her dissertation, “Nonlocal Metasurfaces for Active and Multifunctional Wavefront Shaping,” focused on flat, nanostructured optical devices that leverage a deep understanding of symmetry to enable new optical functionalities. A core contribution of her graduate work was experimentally demonstrating metasurfaces that shape the optical wavefront at multiple selected colors but otherwise remain transparent to broadband light. Such devices have potential towards applications in augmented reality headsets and ultrathin zoom lenses. After graduation, Stephanie has continued in metasurface research as a postdoctoral appointee at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia National Laboratories.

History of the Robert Simon Memorial Prize

The Robert Simon Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics to the graduate student who has completed the most outstanding dissertation. Should no graduate student’s dissertation qualify in any given year, the prize may be awarded to either the most outstanding student who has completed a master of science degree in the Department or to the most outstanding graduating senior in the Department. The Department chair in consultation with the Department faculty selects the awardee. Robert Simon (December 25, 1919–February 11, 2001) received a B.A. degree cum laude in classics from the City College of New York in 1941, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.A. in mathematics from Columbia University in 1949. Between 1941 and 1944, Mr. Simon was a lieutenant in the United States Armed Forces serving in England, France, and Italy. He participated in the D-Day operation as a navigator for a plane that dropped paratroopers in the vicinity of Omaha Beach. General Dwight Eisenhower personally shook his hand and wished him well the night before the D-Day assault. Mr. Simon, who was born and lived in New York City, spent a lifetime making valuable contributions to the field of computer science. Starting in 1953, he worked for 15 years at Sperry's Univac Division in various capacities including marketing, planning, systems engineering, systems programming, and information services. He also spent a year working at the Fairchild Engine Division as director of the Engineering Computer Group. He personally directed the establishment of several company computer centers at sites throughout the United States. Between 1969 and 1973, he was a partner with American Science Associates, a venture capital firm. Mr. Simon was a founder and vice president of Intech Capital Corporation and served on its board from 1972 to 1981 and a founder and member of the board of Leasing Technologies International, Inc. from 1983 until his retirement in 1995. The prize was established in 2001 by Dr. Jane Faggen with additional support from friends and relatives of Mr. Simon.

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