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Madeleine Msall Honored with Prestigious Appointment at Bowdoin College

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We are delighted to announce that PDI guest scientist Madeleine Msall has been named Josiah Little Professor of Natural Sciences at her home faculty, Bowdoin College, Maine. This prestigious recognition highlights her exceptional contributions to science and education at home and abroad.

Madeleine’s collaboration with PDI began with her first sabbatical visit in 2017, and she has since become an invaluable part of the Berlin research community. Madeleine has applied her expertise on the impact of crystal symmetry on vibrational energy in several collaborations with researchers at PDI. She describes her work on hybrid systems as an exciting frontier in semiconductor technology, with potential applications as components in quantum computers, magnetic memory devices, and light modulators.

Reflecting on her experiences at PDI, Madeleine said: "Working with undergraduates at a small liberal arts college is great, but the research infrastructure and focus on device physics at PDI can't be matched at my home institution. My two sabbatical visits (2017-18 and now) have been wonderful opportunities to participate in deeper conversations about high-frequency acoustic waves and to expand their application as probes and controls of quantum systems. Two Bowdoin undergraduates have had very impactful visits to the PDI and more have been inspired to work on related research in Maine. I'm deeply grateful to my colleagues here, who have so generously shared their expertise, equipment, samples, and creative ideas. I'm very proud of what we make together. The Little Professorship is a notable recognition of the excellence of this research partnership."

Madeleine’s research, both at Bowdoin and during her time with us at PDI, has been supported by institutions such as the National Science Foundation, Max Planck Gesellschaft, German Academic Exchange Service, Fletcher Family Fund, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and Bowdoin’s Faculty Leave Program.

Joining the Bowdoin faculty in 1995 after earning her PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Madeleine has consistently demonstrated excellence in her field. Her appointment as the Josiah Little Professor of Natural Sciences, effective July 1, 2024, was announced by Bowdoin President Safa Zaki, following recommendations by Senior Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Scanlon and consultation with senior faculty members.

Madeleine’s appointment not only honors her individual accomplishments but also underscores the value of the collaborative research efforts between Bowdoin College and PDI. Reflecting on the significance of the Josiah Little Professorship, established in 1864, Madeleine remarks:

“Bowdoin has been unwavering in its support of my research, and I’m very grateful. From a physics perspective, it’s interesting to note that the Little Professorship began at a time before the discovery of the electron when steam power was the dominant technology. Bowdoin College made an early and strong commitment to the natural sciences as part of liberal arts education. A twenty-first-century interpretation of the mechanic arts easily extends to the principles of quantum engineering, where we seek to manipulate and control the nanoscale environment of the electron in order to create new electronic devices. I’m honored to be the next Josiah Little Professor.”

We at PDI extend our heartfelt congratulations to Madeleine on this well-deserved recognition and wish her farewell as she wraps up her current sabbatical period at PDI. In addition to her scientific contributions, we are also grateful for her exceptional team skills and active engagement which had a positive affect on everyone around her. We are proud to have her as part of our community and look forward to her next visit and our ongoing research collaborations.