UCLA Samueli Newsroom
Courtesy of Balandin, Schwalbe-Koda
Alexander Balandin (left) and Daniel Schwalbe-Koda (right) will join the UCLA Samueli faculty in July 2023 and March 2024, respectively.

The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering is proud to announce the appointment of two outstanding scholars to its Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Alexander Balandin will join UCLA Samueli as a distinguished professor in July 2023, following more than two decades on the faculty of UC Riverside, where he is a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering and a UC presidential chair professor of materials science. He previously served as the founding chair of UC Riverside’s Materials Science and Engineering Program and a director of the nanofabrication facility.

Balandin’s research expertise spans a broad range of fields including materials science, nanotechnology, electronics, phononics and optical spectroscopy. He is widely recognized for pioneering research into the thermal properties of graphene, which are sheets of carbon that are a single atom in thickness. His current research interests include low-dimensional quantum materials, charge-density-wave materials and their device applications, electronic noise, Brillouin-Mandelstam and Raman spectroscopy, and practical applications of graphene in thermal management.

An internationally acclaimed researcher, Balandin has received many awards and recognitions including the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from the Department of Defense, the MRS Medal from the Materials Research Society, the Pioneer of Nanotechnology Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) Society, the Brillouin Medal from the International Phononics Society. He is a fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Physical Society, IEEE, the Optical Society of America, SPIE — the International Society for Optics and Photonics, the American Association for Advancement of Science and other professional societies. Since 2015, he has been recognized every year as a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher and serves as the deputy editor-in-chief of Applied Physics Letters.

Balandin has advised 40 doctoral graduates who enjoy successful careers in leading technology companies, government laboratories and academia. He received a master’s degree in applied physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Russia. He also obtained a second master’s and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Daniel Schwalbe-Koda will join UCLA Samueli as an assistant professor in March 2024. He is currently a Lawrence Fellow Postdoctoral Researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Schwalbe-Koda’s research interests are focused on expediting the discovery of new materials with desired properties, in particular for sustainable applications. His research combines high-performance computing and machine learning to design and synthesize new materials, with ongoing investigations of energy materials and new computational methods for their invention.

He has also developed an open-source software to integrate materials simulation and predictive synthesis data. For example, he created a web platform to design synthesis routes for zeolites — an important class of nanoporous compounds used across a broad range of industrial processes. The materials discovered using Schwalbe-Koda’s tools balanced excellent catalytic properties with low cost in a field known for trial-and-error optimization.

Schwalbe-Koda received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a master’s in physics and a bachelor’s in electronics engineering, both from the Aeronautics Institute of Technology in Brazil. Recently named to Forbes’ 2023 “30-under-30” list of promising early career scientists, he has also received the Materials Research Society’s Graduate Student Gold Award, the MIT Presidential and Energy graduate fellowships and LLNL’s Lawrence Fellowship.