Rice’s Naomi Halas wins Mildred Dresselhaus Prize

Naomi Halas

Naomi Halas, a pioneering researcher in the fields of nanophotonics and plasmonics at Rice University, has been awarded the 2024 Mildred Dresselhaus Prize for Nanoscience and Nanomaterials from the American Physical Society.


APS established the Dresselhaus Prize to “honor the remarkable scientific career and inspiring community legacy of Mildred S. Dresselhaus,” whose research was instrumental in the development of nanotechnology. The prize recognizes “an outstanding scientist in the area of nanoscience or nanomaterials,” according to the organization’s website.

“Millie was an amazing role model for many of us in nanoscience and also for women in science more broadly. It is an honor to receive the prize named for her,” said Halas, University Professor and Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

As a researcher in the development of light-activated nanoparticles, Halas is the first Rice faculty member to be elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering for research done at Rice. Her discoveries have diverse applications in cancer treatment, optoelectronics, photocatalysis, chemical sensing, solar-powered distillation and steam production, and off-grid water treatment.

Halas was named University Professor earlier this year, Rice’s highest academic rank. She is director of the Smalley-Curl Institute and founding director of the Laboratory for Nanophotonics. According to Google Scholar, Halas’ publications have been cited 122,924 times and her h-index is 166.

She was in the first wave of faculty recruited to Rice by the late Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley to explore the frontiers of nanotechnology.

She is a fellow of nine professional societies, including the APS, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2019, Halas was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

She will formally receive the Dresselhaus Prize during the APS annual meeting to be held March 3–8, 2024, in Minneapolis.

Mildred Dresselhaus (1930–2017) was an American physicist, materials scientist and nanotechnologist who taught for 57 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as president of the American Physical Society.