Published: July 16, 2021

CU Boulder’s Kyle Luh and Shuo Sun recognized as emerging leaders in their fields

Kyle Luh

At the top of the page: Nanophotonics using photons. Above: Kyle Luh

Two young faculty members at the University of Colorado Boulder have been awarded the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), an association working to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health, announced last month.

Shuo Sun

Shuo Sun

Kyle Luh, assistant professor of mathematics, and Shuo Sun, assistant professor of physics, and their fellow recipients will receive $5,000 in seed money for the 2021-22 academic year to enhance their research as they launch their academic careers. Each recipient’s institution matches the award, and winners may use the $10,000 grants to purchase equipment, continue research or travel to professional meetings.

“As a research institution, ORAU is proud to recognize and support the research and professional development of the 35 emerging leaders who are receiving Powe Awards this year,” said Ken Tobin, ORAU vice president for research and university partnerships. 

Luh’s research interests include random matrix theory, random graphs and probabilistic combinatorics. He is also interested in the applications of these fields to statistics, theoretical computer science, physics, data science and machine learning.

Luh earned a master’s in physics in 2012, a master’s in mathematics in 2015, and his PhD in mathematics in 2017, all at Yale.

Sun, who is also an associate fellow at JILA (a joint institute of CU Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology), focuses his research in the areas of quantum optics, nanophotonics (the study of the behavior of light) and experimental quantum information science.

Sun joined the CU Boulder faculty in 2020 after earning his PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. During his PhD work, he developed the first spin-photon quantum switch and the first single-photon transistor using a solid-state spin. His group studies strong light-matter interactions at the quantum limit by coupling solid-state artificial atoms with nanophotonic structures.

Michael Ritzwoller, professor and chair of physics, said the department is pleased by Sun’s recognition as an emerging leader in his fields. “Professor Sun’s exciting research program will be aided through this acknowledgement,” Ritzwoller said.

Powe Awards recognize faculty members for their work in any of five science and technology disciplines: engineering or applied science; life sciences; mathematics and computer science; physical sciences; and policy, management or education.

Since the program’s inception, Oak Ridge Associated Universities has awarded 804 grants totaling about $4 million. 

The awards are named for Ralph E. Powe, who served as the ORAU councilor from Mississippi State University for 16 years. Powe participated in numerous committees and special projects during his tenure and was elected chair of ORAU’s Council of Sponsoring Institutions. He died in 1996.

Including Luh and Sun, seven CU Boulder faculty members have won the Powe Award.