Physicist wins CU’s first-ever Clare Boothe Luce Professorship Award

Assistant Professor Cindy Regal is the University of Colorado’s first-ever Clare Boothe Luce Professorship Award recipient.

The Department of Physics is pleased to present the University of Colorado’s first-ever Clare Boothe Luce Professorship Award to Assistant Professor Cindy Regal.

According to the Henry Luce Foundation Web site, the Clare Boothe Luce Award is designed to “encourage women to enter, study, graduate and teach in science, mathematics and engineering.” The $645,000 award is expected to fund Regal’s academic teaching and research pursuits for the next five years.

“I am grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for their generous support of my work, which is for me both work and fun,” Regal said. “The foundation actually helped me in an important time in my undergraduate studies, and I am excited they will support me again in this crucial stage of my career, in both my teaching and research.”

Established in 1973, the award was created by Clare Boothe Luce—the widow of Henry R. Luce—a playwright, journalist, U.S. Ambassador to Italy and the first woman elected to Congress from Connecticut. According to the foundation’s website, “Since its first grants in 1989, the Clare Boothe Luce Program has become the single most significant source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering.”

“The Clare Boothe Luce Professorship awarded to Dr. Regal embodies our Flagship 2030 strategic plan goal of increasing the number of supported professorships on campus to enhance education and scholarship,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “I’m pleased that someone with Dr. Regal’s immense talent is our first recipient of this prestigious professorship.”

As part of applying for the Clare Boothe Luce Professorship award, CU had to first demonstrate a commitment to the promotion of women in the sciences. In collaboration with the CU Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Chancellor, the Department of Physics successfully submitted a proposal that highlights the many achievements of the Department of Physics, particularly as it pertains to fostering a department that features stellar female faculty members.

Regal joined the physics faculty in January 2010, teaching an electronics course for undergraduate physics majors. She also runs her own lab as part of the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, a renowned research institute that partners with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and specializes in atomic, molecular and optical physics. “My hallway in JILA is always bustling with people at work, and I am continually challenged by my colleagues and the great students in my lab.”

Regal earned her Ph.D. in physics from CU. Her doctoral thesis earned top honors from the Hertz Foundation and the American Physical Society. Following her Ph.D. work, Regal was a Millikan Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. During her undergraduate career, Regal had received a Clare Boothe Luce scholarship for women in science, making this the second time Regal has been recognized by this prestigious foundation.

Regal is happy to return to Boulder to teach and research. “I find CU a vibrant place to be,” she said. Her main research interest is quantum systems of interacting atoms, photons and phonons. “I seek to engineer and explore new quantum systems with controlled connections for quantum information and quantum optics,” Regal said.

“In particular, I focus on manipulating single and few ultracold neutral atoms and the quest to control mesoscopic mechanical oscillators in the quantum regime. My experiments draw on, for example, low-loss optical interfaces, high-Q mechanical oscillators, and laser cooling and trapping techniques.” In the coming years, Regal wants to create devices that combine physical quantum resources with different strengths.

As part of announcing the award, Regal opened the Saturday Physics Series lecture with a presentation titled, “Strings and Drums: Microresonators Go Quantum.”

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