Nadya Mason

Women in STEM
Nadya Mason

Specialty: Physics

Major Contributions:

Dean, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago

Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE award winner

General Councilor for American Physical Society

Image Courtesy of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Nadya Mason, a specialist in the experimental study of quantum materials, says that the best part of having a degree in physics is getting to work in a fun and stimulating profession where she gets to choose her own schedule, focus on research and teaching, as well as traveling and meeting new people from around the world. 

Solving math word problems for fun while growing up, she has always liked math and science and completed numerous summer internships that allowed her to know what fields she didn’t want to pursue and which she would follow as she continued her education. Earning two degrees in physics, a BS from Harvard and Ph.D. from Stanford, she worked as a post-doc researcher and then a Junior Fellow at Harvard before joining the faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she was regarded by her students as an excellent teacher.

Her current research focuses on the electronic properties of nanoscale and correlated systems, like nano-scale wires, atomically thin membranes and nanostructured superconductors.   This work is important in many technological fields like information storage and quantum computers, which are machines that encode information on the scale of atoms and perform quantum operations on this information-allowing it to model the behavior of very small particles or sift through amazingly huge amounts of data. While these computers are currently theoretical, there are many scientists that are working on the different systems needed to make them possible.

Mason also sees the importance of efforts to increase diversity in the physical sciences, especially through mentoring. She is a former chair of the American Physical Society Committee on Minorities. In late 2023 she transitioned to being the dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. 

Mason has been honored many times for her work, including being awarded the Denice Denton Emerging Leader Award from the Anita Borg Society in 2009, which recognizes a junior faculty member for high-quality research and significant positive impact on diversity. This was followed by the 2012 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award that is given to a woman physicist in the early part of her career and in 2020 with the APS Bochet Award and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the US national Academy of Sciences In 2021.

Written by Angela Goad


Nadya Mason: Dean of Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

American Physical Society: Nadya Mason

Chambana Mom to Know: Nadya Mason

Mason Group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Physics Illinois: Nadya Mason

Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award

See Also:

Saturday Physics for Everyone Lecture – Nadya Mason (YouTube)

Wikipedia: Qubit