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Andrea Armani

Prof. Andrea  Armani

Associate Professor
University of Southern California


VHE 712/Chemical Engineering & Materials Science
3651 Watt Way
Los Angeles CA 90089-0106
United States

tel: 626 4347 9806
E-mail: armani@usc.edu
Web: http://chems.usc.edu/armani/

Biography

Andrea Armani received her BA in physics from the University of Chicago (2001) and her PhD in applied physics with a minor in biology from the California Institute of Technology (2007), where she continued as the Clare Boothe Luce post-doctoral Fellow in biology and chemical engineering. She is currently a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Electrical Engineering-Electrophysics in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. Armani has received numerous awards, including the Sigma Xi award for excellence in research, the SPIE BiOS Young Investigator Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, the Technology Review Top 35 Innovators under 35 , the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program New Investigator Award, the USC Mellon Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Mentoring, the NIH New Innovator Award, the PECASE, the Hanna Reisler Mentoring Award, and the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders.

Lecture Title(s)

Portable Sensors based on Integrated Photonics and Functional Materials
Innovation in technology routinely leads the way for discovery in chemistry and biology.  Most notably, x-ray diffraction data was instrumental in the elucidation of the structure of DNA.  To explore the inherent complexity present in biological systems, existing technologies are being pushed to their limits.  Once again, scientists are looking to engineers to create innovative solutions to enable their exploration and discovery.  However, the emphasis is governed by the specific application.  While sensitivity enhancement is critical to achieve single molecule detection levels, in many applications, improved stability and reduced false-positive rates are of higher importance.  Therefore, our research is driven by specific challenges posed by discussions with medical researchers and physicians.  This talk will present a few of the novel sensing systems which have been intelligently designed to address their concerns.  For example, we have recently demonstrated a fully integrated polarimetric fiber sensor instrument for characterizing the mechanical properties of visco-elastic materials.  This portable system shows promise for rapid testing and characterization of human tissue samples, enabling numerous types of research investigations.  Additionally, we have synthesized and characterized a functional polymeric material which irreversibly cleaves upon exposure to UV light in several solvents and in film. This cleavage is selective to UV wavelength, with minimal response to visible or near-IR wavelengths, and upon cleavage, the polymer changes color.  By using this polymer in a tri-layer structure, we have demonstrated a flexible UV indicator strip. 

Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Integrated Photonics:
Integrated photonics offers a potential alternative to integrated electronics, with reduced heating and faster data rates.  However, to achieve many of the desired performance metrics, it is necessary to combine disparate material systems which is extremely difficult due to a wide variety of reasons often including different lattice constants, thermal expansion coefficients, and refractive indices.  Therefore, new materials and material systems are desired.  One approach is to combine the optical materials conventionally used in telecommunications, such as silica, silicon and lithium niobate, with polymeric materials and metallic nanomaterials.  These hybrid systems offer optical and mechanical properties which are not attainable with conventional material systems, such as athermal performance.  This talk will present an overview of the integrated hybrid photonic device research in the Armani Lab, including athermal resonant cavities, plasmonic lasers, and onion-structured lasers.

Applying to Graduate School
The graduate (PhD) school application process is distinctly different from applying to undergraduate programs. While grades and standardized test scores are definitely considered, new metrics, such as research experience and recommendation letters, begin to take an equal, if not more important role. In addition, in direct contrast to undergraduate admissions, the faculty evaluate applications and make decisions on admissions.  Because a PhD is primarily a research degree, it is important to not only consider the school, but also the expertise of the faculty and their research groups. Depending on the interest of the audience, this presentation (or discussion) will cover topics including: how to apply to PhD programs (prepare a personal statement and CV), how to choose an advisor/school, and how to apply for PhD fellowships (prepare personal and research statements, identify opportunities).

How to Prepare for an Academic Position
Simply applying for faculty positions can be a daunting undertaking.  However, the challenges do not end when a position is obtained.  At this point, it is necessary to transition from a full-time researcher into a complex blend of manager, researcher, mentor, and teacher. Depending on the interest of the audience, this presentation (or discussion) will cover topics including: how to best prepare a faculty application packet (assemble a research statement, teaching statement, acquire and prepare reference letter writers, apply for academic jobs, prepare for an academic job interview), how to start-up a lab (e.g. identify and acquire funding), and how to manage a lab (e.g. manage and motivate students/post-docs, grow a lab). 

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