Carnegie Mellon University
March 08, 2016

Physicist Di Xiao Named Cottrell Scholar

By Jocelyn Duffy / 412-268-9982 /

Carnegie Mellon Assistant Professor of Physics Di Xiao has been named a 2016 Cottrell Scholar. Twenty-four of the nation's top early career scientists received the designation from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA). Each will receive $100,000 to fund their research and teaching.

Di Xiao
Di Xiao

"The Cottrell Scholar program champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy by providing these significant discretionary awards," said RCSA President and CEO Robert N. Shelton.

Xiao will use the support from the scholar program to further his theoretical physics research on the topological excitonic effects in gapped Dirac materials. Dirac materials have a unique band structure that sets them apart from other semiconductors, and makes them a promising candidate for the next generation of quantum optoelectronics. Xiao plans to study the how the arrangement of the material’s band impacts the formation and dynamics of excitons.

As a Cottrell Scholar, he will also create an easy to use simulation toolbox to help teach solid state physics to undergraduate students. The toolbox will promote hypothesis-driven learning through computer simulation and introduce students to advanced research topics.

Xiao joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 2012. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, and completed post-doctoral research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The Cottrell Scholar program is designed to foster synergy among faculty at major American research universities and primarily undergraduate institutions. Scholars share insights and expertise during the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative, an annual meeting of some to the nation’s top educators.