Professor of Physics awarded a Blaise Pascal Chaire d’Excellence to conduct Research in France

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Nora Berrah, professor of Physics at the University of Connecticut, has been awarded the International Blaise Pascal Chaire d’Excellence. Photo courtesy of University of Connecticut’s Department of Physics webpage.

Nora Berrah, professor of Physics at the University of Connecticut, has been awarded the International Blaise Pascal Chaire d’Excellence.  

The award is a great honor whose previous winners include scientists and scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including multiple Nobel laureates, Elaina Hancock said in UConn Today.  

“The goal [of the award] is to establish international collaborations and exchange, as well as share science globally,” Hancock said. “In Berrah’s case, the collaboration is between the U.S. and France, and in particular between UConn and the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives de Saclay (CEA, Paris Saclay). The collaborative work is aimed to push the frontiers of science, as well as enrich and facilitate international research.”  

The award was intended to support research in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put Berrah’s plans on hold until September 2021. 

“Berrah will be able to carry out fundamental research in one of the best attosecond laser labs in the world. Attosecond lasers are so far the fastest laser that allows measurement in a 10-18 second time scale,”

Elaina Hancock, UConn Today

“Berrah will be able to carry out fundamental research in one of the best attosecond laser labs in the world. Attosecond lasers are so far the fastest laser that allows measurement in a 10-18 second time scale,” Hancock said. “The research work will consist of investigating physical and chemical processes induced by absorption of laser light (photons). Specifically, Berrah’s research is to measure the time it takes for electrons in biomolecules to move from one end of a biomolecule to another.”  

This process in the research, called “Charge Migration,” and is crucial to measure and determine the quantitative timescale used to understand the physical processes that have a direct impact on chemistry and biology, Hancock wrote.  

The Région ile-de-France selects four laureates of high international standing in their field of expertise every year. All areas of research are included, such as humanities, arts and sciences.  

“Berrah was selected by the Blaise Pascal Chaire Committee for the field of Fundamental Physics,” Hancock said. “Berrah is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct ultrafast research in her UConn lab with femtosecond lasers (10-15 second). She conducts attosecond research with free-electron lasers at SLAC National Laboratory, and this work is funded by the Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences.” 

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