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Larbalestier named to National Academy of Engineering

David C. Larbalestier

David C. Larbalestier (large image)

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David Larbalestier, the Grainger Professor of Superconducting Materials and L.V. Shubnikov Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, was named Friday to the National Academy of Engineering.

Larbalestier serves as director of the College of Engineering's Applied Superconductivity Center. In collaboration with several faculty members in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Larbalestier has been at the forefront of efforts to understand and develop new and better superconducting materials.

Membership in the National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest honors accorded to engineers. Larbalestier joins 16 other University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering faculty who are members of the academy. Members receive the honor through nomination and voting by peers; there are about 2,000 members and foreign associates in the NAE.

"This is a tremendous honor for David, and serves as recognition of the world-class work done by our faculty," said College of Engineering Dean Paul Peercy.

Larbalestier received his bachelor's (1965) and doctoral (1970) degrees in physical metallurgy from Imperial College, the University of London.

Larbalestier joins three other colleagues from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in attaining membership in the NAE. Others include Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Y. Austin Chang, Erwin W. Mueller Professor and Bascom Professor of Surface Science Max Lagally, and Peercy, who holds a faculty appointment in the department.

Department Chair Sindo Kou said few materials science and engineering departments in the country have as many NAE members.

"David's work in discovering new superconducting materials and processes has pushed the boundaries of engineering research," Kou said. "This honor is confirmation of the outstanding team of faculty we have in our department."

Larbalestier's research includes work on understanding the transport of supercurrent in superconductors. For high-temperature superconductors, variations such as grain bondaries and other atomic-scale defects can interrupt superconductivity. Work at the Applied Superconductivity Center has led to deeper understanding of superconductor-defect interactions. In addition, the Center has gained notice in recent years for its research on magnesium diboride, a recently discovered high-temperature superconducting material that is cheaper and easier to produce than other, more complex superconductors.

Larbalestier is a member of the Materials Research Society, The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society-American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He received the IEEE Council on Superconductivity Career Achievement Award in 2000, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He was the 1993 recipient of the College of Engineering's Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication.

Membership in the National Academy of Engineering is accorded to those in the field who have made "important contributions to engineering theory and practice," as well as those who have demonstrated the "pioneering of new fields of engineering, making major advances in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education," according to a statement released by the academy.

Founded in 1964, the NAE is a branch of the National Academies, which also includes the National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. The academy advises the federal government on public policy issues involving technology and engineering, and conducts independent studies on technology and engineering matters.

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2/17/2003