Lara Anderson, assistant professor of physics, and F. Marc Michel, assistant professor of geosciences, both in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, have been named the Luther and Alice Hamlett Junior Faculty Fellows by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Luther and Alice Hamlett Junior Faculty Fellowships were established in the College of Science by the estate of Luther J. and Alice Hamlett. It was the intention of Luther Hamlett — who earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia Tech in 1945, and was a strong supporter of the Academy of Integrated Science — to direct his gift to faculty and students associated with these new and innovative scientific programs. Alice passed away in 2009, and Luther passed away in 2016.

A recipient of the Luther and Alice Hamlett Junior Faculty Fellowship will hold the title for a period of three years. The award is renewable.

“Dr. Hamlett and his wife, Alice, are among the most generous supporters our college has ever had,” said Sally C. Morton, dean of the College of Science. “Their love of learning, and of Virginia Tech, inspires all who knew them.” 

The Hamlett estate also established the Luther and Alice Hamlett Scholarships in the Academy of Integrated Science. These endowed scholarships are helping fund more than two dozen students enrolled in the programs of the Academy, which include Nanoscience, Systems Biology, Computation Modeling and Data Analytics, the Integrated Science Curriculum, as well as the minor of Science, Technology, and Law.


Luther and Alice Hamlett

Luther and Alice Hamlett
Luther and Alice Hamlett in an undated photo. Image courtesy of family.

Anderson joined Virginia Tech’s Department of Physics in 2013 as an assistant professor. She also holds an affiliate positon with the Department of Mathematics and is an affiliated member of the Integrated Science Curriculum, helping develop the two-year program in cross-disciplinary science fundamentals within the Academy of Integrated Science.

She has held visiting positions or fellowships with the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. Her research productivity has been recognized with numerous National Science Foundation awards, including a current $600,000 project on String Compactifications: From Geometry to Effective Field Theory.

Anderson has earned the reputation as an outstanding teacher, including a Favorite Faculty award from Virginia Tech’s Division of Student Affairs. She has mentored four undergraduate research projects related to mathematical aspects of her work in string theory. Since joining Virginia Tech she has taken part in numerous efforts to increase the numbers of women and other underrepresented groups in the sciences, including co-organizing the American Physical Society’s Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in January 2017.

Anderson has published more than 38 scholarly papers and has delivered over 50 invited conference talks and 70 invited seminars and colloquia. She has organized or co-organized 11 professional meetings.

Michel joined the Department of Geosciences in 2012. He also is a member of the Academy of Integrated Science, serving in its Nanoscience program. He teaches Nanoscience and Environment, Mineralogy, and Advanced Topics in Mineralogy, and has guided 16 undergraduate students on research projects in his first five years at Virginia Tech. He has written more than 40 publications in nanoscience and geoscience journals, six book chapters, and has given more than 25 invited or keynote presentations at professional conferences.

He recently received a $560,000 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, with the goal of advancing innovative research on how the smallest minerals, known as nanoparticles, crystallize from their originating solution. He also is co-principal investigator on a $2.5 million NSF award to establish the Virginia Tech National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure known as NanoEarth.

Michel also is principal investigator to another NSF-funded project on “Mineral Formation by Cluster Self-Assembly: Schwertmannite as a Partially Crystallized Nanomineral” and is a co-principal investigator on the continuing project, Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, a multi-university collaborative funded by NSF and the Environmental Protection Agency in excess of $24 million. 

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