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Chemistry Professor Wins Prestigious Feliks Gross Award

May 7, 2010


Professor Andrei Jitianu

Lehman College Chemistry Professor Andrei Jitianu was honored on May 4 at the CUNY Graduate Center with the prestigious Feliks Gross Endowment Award. The annual award, which includes a plaque and honorarium, recognizes outstanding research conducted by junior faculty in the humanities or sciences at CUNY. It is the second year in a row that a faculty member from Lehman has won the coveted award.

"I felt honored and humbled by this award, and obliged to keep moving forward with my research," said Professor Jitianu, who joined the Lehman faculty in 2008. His research is focused on creating hermetic barrier materials using the Sol-Gel method. These could be used to encase electronic devices like plasma televisions, cell phones, and LCD screens.

While these new devices consume less energy than their predecessors, their components are more susceptible to damage from water and humidity. The "melting gels" coatings he is developing would increase the lifetime of such devices.

Professor Jitianu's research also has implications for medical diagnostic tools, like quantum dots, which are used for imaging cancer cells. The dots are usually poisonous to the body, but could be used more safely if coated with a hermetic barrier.

"This award is a well-deserved recognition of the high caliber of research that Professor Jitianu has spearheaded during his short time as a Lehman faculty member," said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Mary A. Papazian. "His commitment to scholarship is not only an inspiration to his students, but is a reflection of the quality of work being carried out across the Lehman campus." Mathematics and Computer Science Professor Jason Behrstock received the Feliks Gross Award last year for his research in geometric group theory and low dimensional topology.

Professor Jitianu's research has been published widely in peer-reviewed journals that include Journal of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, and Journal of Materials Research. Prior to joining Lehman, he was a research associate at Rutgers University and a senior researcher at the Institute of Physical Chemistry in Bucharest, Romania. He earned a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in inorganic chemistry and a Ph.D. in materials science, all at the University of Bucharest.

Feliks Gross, for whom the award is named, was a noted scholar and social activist who transformed American scholarship in the years following World War II. Born in Poland, he received his doctorate from Jagiellonian University of Cracow, where he also was an assistant professor in sociology. During the war, he fled to the United States, held a number of academic positions, including a professorship at Brooklyn College, and wrote more than twenty books and scores of articles. CUNY established this award in his memory.

Hunter Anthropology Professor Jessica Rothman also received a Feliks Gross Award at the ceremony.