Serendipity is an unplanned, or accidental, discovery. The history of science is filled with these beneficial coincidences: Alexander Fleming discovering penicillin, Percy Spencer inventing the microwave, or Spencer Silver inventing the Post-it Note®, just to name a few. Each of these circumstances were the result of serendipity, but when it happens repeatedly, as it has with MNTL Professor Jean-Pierre Leburton’s research publications, one might believe that there is more than luck involved.
Leburton was honored with the prestigious Collaborative Conference on Materials Research (CCMR) Serendipity Award this week at the group’s annual conference in Seoul, South Korea. The award honors researchers who have published more than 100 Science Citation Index papers at the time of nomination. Leburton went above and beyond the requirements with more than 300 papers to his name.
“I never thought I would actually achieve more than 300 papers, but you know it is serendipity,” said Leburton, the Gregory Stillman Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “It’s always nice to have my work recognized by my peers. Especially because this award is for the ensemble of my work.”
Leburton’s work has changed over the years. He was a semiconductor researcher in the beginning of his career, but around 20 years ago he became interested in DNA, and the way it carries genetic information.
“DNA is the molecule of life and I got very interested in the possibility of merging the information carried by DNA with the way the information is processed by electronic devices,” said Leburton, also a professor of physics and researcher in the Coordinated Science Laboratory and the F. Seitz Material Research Laboratory. “I was always interested in devising new solid state devices to produce new functionality by exploiting the physical properties of materials.”
The hundreds of papers Leburton has published have been in some of the top journals in a variety of fields including Nano Letters, ACS Nano, Nature Communications, Nature Partner Journals, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Physical Review Letters, Physical Review B, and many more.
While getting this sort of lifetime achievement award might lead some people to slow down on publishing, Leburton sees it differently.
“This award just stimulates my inquisitiveness in continuing my research,” he said.