Emory physics professor Justin Burton received a $625,000 award from the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. The five-year CAREER grants, among the NSF's most prestigious awards, support scientists who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research integrated with excellence in education.
Burton will apply the award to his research into amorphous matter, or substances made up of granules in jumbled, irregular states. These substances include everything from the foam on your cup of cappuccino to the vast, slushy mélange of a glacier as it breaks down and flows into the sea. Amorphous matter also encompasses soft condensed matter such as toothpaste, shaving cream, plastic and glass, which are collectively known as "glassy" materials.
"Amorphous material is everywhere, it's among the most common states of solid matter," Burton says, "and yet, there's a lot that we don't understand about it."