I'm Ben Isaacoff, the 2018-2019 OSA & SPIE Arthur H. Guenther/AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow.
I've attended U of M for both my undergraduate and graduate education. In undergrad I received a B.S. in Honors Physics, conducting my thesis research in Professor Roberto Merlin's lab where I worked on measuring exciton confinement in atomically thin semiconductor sheets (taking a cue from graphene) and theoretically exploring the near-perfecting focusing of negative refractive index materials. During my undergraduate studies I also received a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.S.E. in Engineering Physics. After a short postbac research experience in Professor Jennifer Dionne's lab at Stanford University working on quantum tunneling of localized surface plasmons, I returned to U of M for graduate school enrolling in the Applied Physics PhD program. I completed my M.S.E. in Electrical Engineering in 2015. During the summer of 2017 I was a visiting researcher at Leiden University, working with Michel Orrit, where I developed a novel circular dichroism based photothermal imaging technique for chiral media.
I completed my PhD in Applied Physics at U of M in 2018. My dissertation, titled "Modifying Single-Molecule Fluorescence with a Plasmonic Optical Antenna: Theory, Methodology, and Measurement" is described in more detail here. My doctoral research was conducted in Professor Julie Biteen's research group in the Chemistry Department, where I able to work with a dynamic and exciting team of interdisciplinary researchers and students.
I am deeply invested in science and technology's impact on society. To explore this passion more fully, I am completed a graduate certificate in Science, Technology, and Public Policy at U of M's Ford School of Public Policy in 2017. Because I think that scientific engagement is an essential part of a technologically advanced society, I feel that scientific--and indeed the larger academic--community has a responsibility to engage, educate, and include the public. To this end I've participated in many outreach events in different communities, often giving a talk developed from this video.
Outside of my professional life, I am an avid outdoorsman and multi-sport athlete, as comfortable sleeping in a windstorm at 10,000 ft as I am aligning a laser or giving a policy presentation. I love literature, film, and all things gastronomical, though I will not claim any real expertise on these fronts. I'm a tech diver and have had opportunities to dive all over the world. I am also a licensed EMT with additional Wilderness EMS training.