Postdoc wins Women in Science fellowship

From an early age, Ania Bleszynski-Jayich, the daughter of two physicists, was captivated by the simple elegance of physics. Growing up, she said she knew she would devote her life to its study.

Now, Bleszynski-Jayich, a Yale postdoctoral student in physics who studies quantum mechanics, is one of this year’s five American women named as a recipient of the prestigious L’Oréal U.S.A. Fellowship for Women in Science. The fellowship, which was launched in 2003, aims to support women on the brink of advancements in their fields of science. In addition to receiving $40,000 to further their research, laureates gain opportunities for professional development and networking with other accomplished scientists.

Bleszynski-Jayich came to Yale in 2006 to work with physics professor Jack Harris. In her time at Yale, she has developed new methods in the field of quantum mechanics.

Harris said Bleszynski-Jayich was deserving of the reward, describing her as dedicated and hard-working.

“She had been devoting a huge effort for nearly two years before she got the award,” he said. “Though she had done some important preliminary studies, the actual experiment wasn’t working until after she got the award. So even the preliminary work struck the committee as impressive enough to deserve an award.”

Her work revolves around the study of the orbits of electrons around wire, which are approximately the size of components in computer chips. Although Bleszynski-Jayich focuses on the physics of small things — studying nano-systems, on the order of one billionth of a meter — she hopes the impact of her research will be far-reaching.

Understanding the flow of electrons around metals is the path to advancements in technologies in computation and communication, Bleszynski-Jayich said of her research.

“Nanotechnology is already having a huge impact on medicine, computing and new material technologies, to name a few,” she said. “My work tries to understand how the electronic properties of a system behave as the size shrinks to nanometers. This understanding will help in the design and implementation of future nanoscale devices.”

Before coming to Yale, she did her doctoral work at Harvard University. Bleszynski-Jayich attended Stanford University for her undergraduate degree, double majoring in physics and mathematics & computational science.

At Yale, Bleszynski-Jayich’s contributions transcend her discoveries in the lab, Harris said.

“Even though postdocs might seem a bit removed from most students’ experience of Yale, Ania works with undergrads, grad students, visitors and professors,” Harris said. “She brings fresh ideas and skills to Yale and helps to provide the mentoring that is part of the training of scholars.”

Comments