UWinnipeg Alumna wins the Smalley-Curl Fellowship at Rice University

Alannah Hallas, photo supplied

Alannah Hallas, photo supplied

UWinnipeg graduate and Alannah Hallas (BSc [Hons], 11) is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Smalley-Curl fellowship at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Hallas started her undergraduate research training with Dr. Chris Wiebe (chemistry) is his Quantum Materials Laboratory at The University of Winnipeg.

She finished with the Gold Medal in Chemistry, and is a prestigious Vanier Scholar (2014). Most of her research is at the interface of chemistry and physics — the synthesis of new materials that test new ideas in quantum magnetism. An understanding of these materials is essential towards creating new technologically relevant devices.

“I studied chemistry and mathematics at UWinnipeg,” shared Hallas. “One of the things I most appreciated about my undergraduate experience was the size of the departments and classes. Over the course of my degree I had the opportunity to get to know many of my professors in a way that would be completely infeasible at many other schools. I was also able to engage in research at an early stage in my studies, working in the lab of professor Christopher Wiebe. My experience in his lab and his guidance, enthusiasm, and encouragement are ultimately what led me to pursue graduate studies. I feel that my undergraduate experience prepared me well for the interdisciplinary field I’m now working in.”

The Smalley-Curl Institute at Rice University was named after Nobel Laureates Richard Smalley and Robert Curl who shared the Chemistry Prize in 1985 for the discovery of carbon fullerenes (along with Harold Kroto). Hallas was an exceptional candidate for the Smalley-Curl with over 25 publications in top ranked chemistry and physics journals. She will be working with Dr. Emilia Morosan on new rare earth intermetallic metals. Hallas’s most recent research in quantum magnetism was just accepted for publication as a Physical Review Letter, one of the top physical science journals in the world. She already has had a remarkable four Physical Review Letters published throughout her education, and a Nature Communications paper as well.   

Dr. Chris Wiebe

Dr. Chris Wiebe

“I am very pleased to see Alannah grow into a remarkable young scientist, ” says Dr. Wiebe. “Her career began here at The University of Winnipeg and I was happy to play a role in her further education all the way to her PhD….She has a very bright future.”

Hallas continued her research at the University of Manitoba with Wiebe to receive her MSc in 2013. She was then co-supervised by Professor Bruce Gaulin, Graeme Luke, and Wiebe for her PhD at McMaster University, which she successfully defended in August 2017. While at McMaster she received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada post-doctoral fellowship in addition to the Smalley-Curl fellowship.

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