Penn may soon be adding another esteemed professor to its list of Nobel Laureates.
Physics professor Charles Kane was chosen as a Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate for his work on unique properties of electrons and how they move through magnetic fields. Citation Laureates are considered strong candidates for Nobel Prizes.
“I am interested in the electronic properties of materials — in particular, what type of electronic states they can exhibit,” Kane explained. “We’ve been fortunate enough to find some ways that electrons can behave that people haven’t thought of before.” He work specifically involves the quantum Hall effect and topological insulators.
Thomson Reuters analyzes citation rates of research articles in order to predict possible Nobel Prize winners, with more than 20 percent accuracy. Thomson Reuters names researches Citation Laureates if they are highly cited.
The company pulls data from its citation database, known as Web of ScienceTM, which provides access to more than 12,000 high impact journals covering fields such as humanities, arts and sciences. The more a research article is cited in other work, the more influential it is generally considered in its field.
“Very few papers are extremely highly cited — we are very confident that we are looking at research that is important to the scientific community,” David Pendlebury, an analyst for Thomson Reuters, said . “These authors are pioneers in their fields and the Nobel committees are looking for these original discoverers.”
Citations of scientific literature, according to President of Thomson Reuters IP & Science Basil Moftah, are one of the “greatest dividends of a researcher’s intellectual involvement.”
“Our aggregation and analysis of citation information provides unique insight into individuals contributing highly impactful work and enables us to identify candidates likely to receive a Nobel Prize,” Moftah said.
There are two other Physics professors, Laurens W. Molenkamp and Shoucheng Zhang, also nominated for their work on the quantum Hall effect and topological insulation, from University of Würzburg in Germany and Stanford University, respectively.
Kane has been more than pleased with his peer collaborations here at Penn, particularly his colleague Eugene Mele, also a professor in Physics.
While Kane is excited about his naming as a Citation Laureate, he is more honored by awards given by his own peers. “There have been other honors that have been based on judgments of people who know what they are reading about — those are more meaningful,” Kane said.
“We’ve worked together for 20 years, this work that I did started as a collaboration with [Eugene], and this certainly wouldn’t have happened had I not come to Penn,” Kane said.
The process that Thomson Reuters uses dates back to 1965, when Eugene Garfield analyzed the Scientific Citation Index and found important connections, allowing him to make predictions about potential prizewinners.
Kane was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year. In addition, he was endowed a grant of $500,000 in July from the Simons Foundation, in recognition for his contributions to the field of physics.
Nobel Laureates are chosen in early October, selected by the Swedish Academy through majority vote and the prizes themselves are awarded on Dec. 10 in Stockholm, Sweden.
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