Alex Zunger’s research field is condensed matter theory of real materials. He is the recipient of the 2010 Tomassoni Physics Prize and Science Medal of Scola Physica Romana, the 2001 John Bardeen Award of The Material Society, the Rahman Award of the American Physical Society, the 2009 Gutenberg Award (Germany) and the 2000 Cornell Presidential Medal. Israeli raised and educated, he received his Ph.D. from Tel-Aviv University, Israel. He did his postdoctoral research at Northwestern University (with Art Freeman). He then received an IBM Fellowship, which he spent at the University of California, Berkeley (with Marvin Cohen). Dr. Zunger established the Solid State Theory group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colorado, a position he still holds today. He is an NREL Institute Research Fellow, and Director of the Energy Frontier Research Center on Inverse Design.
Theoretical methods have greatly influenced experiment in search of the elusive marriage between semiconductor electronics and magnetism, and the development of spintronics. The path has not always been a straight one, but realizing the limitations and strengths of theoretical approaches promises a straighter course.