Nobel Prize winner Ahmed Zewail, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Physics and professor of physics at Caltech, was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society for his pioneering development of a laser-based new field which, as cited by the Nobel Prize, caused a revolution in chemistry and adjacent sciences.
Specifically, the Royal Society cites Zewail's work in the development of "laser techniques and their applications to ultrafast dynamics of molecular systems. His seminal contributions include femtochemistry, nonlinear spectroscopy, and molecular physics."
Zewail has conducted groundbreaking work in viewing and studying chemical reactions at the atomic level as they occur. Because reactions can take place in a millionth of a billionth of a second, Zewail's research has, with the use of advanced lasers, made it possible to observe, study, and predict this motion for the first time, thus allowing scientists to probe nature at its fundamental level. His work has had a significant impact on chemistry and related sciences worldwide. Born and raised in Egypt, and now a U.S. citizen, Zewail joined Caltech in 1976.
Shrinivas Kulkarni, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science, has also been elected to the Royal Society as a fellow. His revolutionary work in astrophysics was cited for "contributing centrally to fundamental astronomical discoveries that span a broad range of disciplines and include the fastest radio pulsar known, with a spin period of 1.5 ms; the first example of a brown dwarf star; white dwarf companions to binary pulsars; radio counterparts to soft gamma-ray repeating sources, and cosmological gamma-ray bursts."
Kulkarni's discoveries and his recent work on the nature of gamma-ray bursts and their use in understanding the origins of the universe have had a major impact on astrophysics today. Born in India, and now a permanent U.S. resident, Kulkarni joined the Caltech faculty in 1985.
David Baltimore, president of Caltech and a Nobel laureate himself, said, "Having two such distinguished professors to receive this award is, indeed, an honor for Caltech, and is a testament to the caliber of faculty and scientists we have here at Caltech. Both of these eminent scholars have contributed to the advancement of science, and are most deserving of this illustrious honor."
The Royal Society was established in England in 1660, and is the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. The Society's objectives are to recognize excellence in science; to support leading-edge scientific research and its applications; to stimulate international interaction; and to promote education and the public's understanding of science.
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