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Munira Khalil receives prestigious Brown Investigator Award

Submitted by Diana Knight on June 13, 2022 - 11:35am
Portrait of Munira Khalil

The Brown Science Foundation announced that Munira Khalil, Leon C. Johnson Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry, is a recipient of this year’s Brown Investigator Award. The award recognizes curiosity-driven basic research in chemistry and physics and supports researchers with $2 million over five years to their respective universities. 

Khalil was nominated by colleagues at the University of Washington and was chosen by the foundation from a candidate pool of mid-career scientists at top-rated research universities. Three other recipients were named from Columbia, Princeton and Stanford universities. 

“We couldn’t have been more pleased with the strength of candidates in just the second year of this growing program,” said Marc Kastner, external science advisor for the Science Philanthropy Alliance and chair of the foundation’s scientific advisory board, which selected the winners. “It’s a testament to the number of mid-career researchers willing to take risks and push the bounds of chemistry and physics. I know I speak for the entire advisory board and Ross Brown himself when I say that we’re excited to see where this year’s recipients will take their fields in the years to come.”

Khalil is a physical chemist whose research focuses on developing a microscopic understanding of how coupled electronic, vibrational, and solvent degrees of freedom optimize charge and energy transfer pathways in molecular photochemistry. She teaches courses in physical chemistry, quantum chemistry and spectroscopy. 

“Dr. Khalil is an outstanding leader in her field whose ground-breaking research will change future lives for the better,” said Dianne Harris, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “She has had a transformative impact on chemistry at UW and beyond. We are proud to call her a colleague and congratulate her on this remarkable achievement.” 

In her nomination letter, Khalil was praised for her combination of talents and creativity in thinking about science, experimental methodologies, and leadership. Her research was praised as a “Holy Grail of chemical physics research” with exceptional promise for developing new optical tools to synthesize and probe quantum coherence in molecular systems. Her research programs can impact the development of quantum information technology and tailored materials with functionalities tied to quantum phenomena, as well as clean energy technologies.

“Dr. Khalil exemplifies the UW’s Natural Sciences faculty. She is a truly innovative and highly impactful scientist who is also leading our excellent Department of Chemistry with tremendous skill and dedication,” said Daniel Pollack, Divisional Dean of National Sciences and one of Khalil’s nominators. “We are very grateful for her leadership and proud of her accomplishments.”

The Brown Science Foundation was established in 1992 by Ross M. Brown and the Brown Investigator Award program launched in 2020.

Story in College of Arts & Sciences news, June 7, 2022