Katherine Aidala wins spring 2020 APS prize

The American Physical Society has awarded Mount Holyoke professor Katherine Aidala the highest recognition of her outstanding research and mentoring.

By Christian Feuerstein

Katherine Aidala, professor of physics at Mount Holyoke College, has won the  2020 Prize for a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution from the American Physical Society. 

The prestigious award is given to a physicist whose research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to physics, and whose mentoring has contributed substantially to the professional development of undergraduate physics students.

“It is incredibly gratifying to be recognized in this way for all the hard work I, along with my students, post-doctoral researchers and collaborators, have put into research at Mount Holyoke College over the years,” said Aidala. “Mount Holyoke facilitates cutting-edge research and the dedicated students in my lab have been a pleasure to work with and mentor. I am honored to receive this prize.”  

The citation for Aidala’s award notes that she demonstrated “exceptionally creative and interdisciplinary research using scanning probe microscopy for novel studies of magnetic nanorings, biofilms and organic semiconductors and for outstanding mentoring of women undergraduates, particularly through research collaborations.”

Integral to Aidala’s work is her commitment to facilitating the growth of young women in the field of physics. To date, she has mentored 50 undergraduate women in her research lab, many of whom have continued on to graduate school or employment in STEM fields.

The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization that advances and diffuses the knowledge of physics through its research journals, scientific meetings and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities. Its 55,000 members include physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and the world. With few exceptions, the organization’s prizes and awards are open to the entire scientific community in the United States and abroad.