Campus: CSU Long Beach -- February 18, 2004
Cal State Long Beach Physics Professor Receives
$450,223 National Science Foundation CAREER Grant
Cal State Long Beach Physics Professor Mladen Barbic is making a name for
himself within nanotechnology circles for his innovative concepts for
microscopic magnetic-powered devices and new magnetic imaging techniques
at the molecular or even atomic level.
He plans to carry on his work in a new world-class nanotechnology laboratory
under development in the CSULB Physics Department and is backing up his ideas
with a five-year, $450,223 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early
Career Development Program (CAREER) grant. NSF calls it the agency's "most
prestigious award for new faculty members."
The CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development
activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic
leaders of the 21st century. The grant also will involve undergraduate and
master's students in Barbic's research.
"My lab is very much an applied physics lab," explained Barbic, a native of
Croatia who earned his Ph.D. at UC San Diego and did postdoctoral work at
Caltech. He joined the CSULB faculty last fall. "It's using some new or
interesting or bizarre, if you will, magnetic properties of nanometer
structures that can be used for something useful, whether in medicine or
"One of my big interests is in pushing the limits of resolution in magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI)," he continued. "I'm interested in novel techniques
in magnetic imaging; by that I mean imaging of electron spins in magnetic
structures, but beyond that is even the tougher challenge of doing
measurements on what are called nuclear spins."
One of his ultimate goals is "eventually to do a single molecule or single
cell high resolution imaging non-invasively. I think that's a big field
that people have tried, but it's just so difficult."
He's busy getting his new lab operational. The grant begins June 1 and will
fund two graduate students per year and two undergraduates during summers
over five years.
"My plan is to have graduate students do research that leads to a master's
thesis that's comprehensive and is going to complete a nice body of work,
whereas my undergraduate students will get involved in some of what I will
call quirkier ideas that are perhaps even more risky," Barbic said. "But
they can afford that risk and can do something a little more crazy and it
doesn't have to end up in a master's thesis-just a cool summer project
that might even end up in a publication if we're successful."
He already is working with a group of graduate students, many of whom have
industry work experience. "What I expect from my students are world-class
master's theses with students going out and representing Cal State Long Beach
well and contributing to the economy of this area. A lot of companies have
a lot of positions and can't fill them because there aren't people that are
really doing physics. To be honest, physics is not what you call a sexy
field any more," Barbic explained. "There are still a lot of jobs in physics,
especially in the local area, but it's perceived to be a difficult field
to study and master."
Barbic is seeking additional funding from a variety of sources, both public
and private, and is part of a larger proposal being submitted by Caltech for
a major nanotechnology center. He added that the CAREER grant does not
include funds for equipment, but that through collaborations with other labs
and by his ingenuity and that of his students, he can construct or obtain the
instrumentation needed for his work. Connecting with both academic and
industrial partners will be an essential part of his lab's success, he said.
"We can certainly explore and make a niche for ourselves in a specific field
that I think is novel and really be the best in the world, even if it's a very
narrow field," he said. "I think it has a huge potential. I hope to instill
in my students that they should be proud of what they do and that they really
can be the best in the world in our niche area of research, and we can
really contribute and publish in top scientific journals."
Media Contacts: Anne Ambrose, 562/985-2582,
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, firstname.lastname@example.org