Prof. Giulia Galli earns two top honors for leadership and outstanding research

This month, Prof. Giulia Galli was elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, which are considered two of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.

The National Academy of Sciences elects members based on their excellence in original and continuing scientific research. The American Academy elects members who are considered world leaders in their respective fields and who work to respond to global challenges.

“I feel deeply honored,” said Galli, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering. “I’m grateful to the colleagues who nominated me at the University of Chicago. Without their constant support, none of these recognitions would have ever happened.”

“Giulia’s groundbreaking work in computational modelling of molecular behavior can help us address complex and pressing problems in areas such as renewable energy technology and quantum device engineering,” said Matthew Tirrell, dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME). “Her election to both of these societies is well-deserved, and we look forward to her continued leadership in her field.”

Galli, who is also professor of chemistry at UChicago and senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, is a physicist recognized for her contributions to the fields of computational condensed-matter, materials science, and nanoscience, most notably first principles simulations of materials and liquids, in particular materials for energy, properties of water, and excited state phenomena.

The focus of Galli’s studies is to understand and predict how to harness molecular behavior to improve technology, particularly in the areas of speeding up computation and sensing with quantum technology, and perfecting renewable energy technologies.

The director of the Midwest Integrated Center for Computational Materials, Galli has also been working on developing open source software to simulate the electronic structure of molecules and solids both on simple compute clusters and on high performance architectures, including the supercomputers at Argonne National Laboratory. In the last few years she has been interested in how to facilitate the reproducibility of data presented in peer-reviewed scientific papers; her group has created a publicly available tool called Qresp that provides a framework for researchers to share the data and workflows, so that others can see how published results were obtained—and possibly reuse  or revise them.

Galli’s election to the NAS and AAAS follows international recognition with four major awards in the span of a year, most recently the Feynman Theory Prize, an annual honor highlighting extraordinary work in harnessing quantum mechanics for the public interest. Other awards include the 2018 Materials Theory Award from the Materials Research Society, the 2019 David Adler Lectureship Award in the field of materials physics by the American Physical Society, and the Tomassoni prize from the University of Rome, La Sapienza.

For Galli, an important aspect of election to the NAS and AAAS is the increased visibility of her lab’s research to interested parties.

“Earning these memberships helps us recruit good students and postdoctoral scholars, and hence build excellent teams,” said Galli.