Bernard Yurke Named 2015 Distinguished Scientist


Dr. Bernard Yurke was named 2015 IASE Distinguished Scientist at the March 21st Symposium Awards Banquet.  Yurke was nominated by Dr. Amy Moll, Dean of the Boise State University College of Engineering.  In her letter of nomination, Moll stated:

During his distinguished career at Bell Laboratories and Boise State University, Dr. Yurke worked in a variety of fields, including low temperature physics, quantum optics, liquid crystals, biophysics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and DNA nanotechnology. Highlights of his career include serving as the theorist for the Bell Laboratories team that was first to generate squeezed light, experimentally demonstrating the generation of squeezed microwaves for the first time, and constructing the first nanodevice powered by DNA.

His current research is focused on DNA nanotechnology where he is a true pioneer and innovator in several areas: DNA molecular machines, DNA functionalization of gels, DNA cross catalytic systems, DNA origami and implementing working DNA systems in blood. Dr. Yurke is credited with developing the first molecular machine, DNA nanoscale “tweezers,” that exploit DNA’s hybridization properties to open and close. This invention was featured as the cover story in Nature in 2000 and has a wide range of applications including synthetic muscle. This device was the first to make use of toehold-mediated strand displacement which is now used widely in DNA nanotechnology.

Dr. Yurke’s work in the DNA nanotechnology field and in quantum optics has been cited as seminal to the success of many other leading researchers. Dr. Yurke has 130 peer reviewed publications, 21 patents, has been cited over 9,370 times, and has a Web of Science h-index of 50. Examples of Dr. Yurke’s ground breaking work in these two fields include:

Observation of Squeezed States Generated by 4-Wave Mixing in an Optical Cavity“; Slusher, RE; Hollberg, LW; Yurke, B; et al.; Physical Review Letters; 55:22, 1985. Cited 1089 times.
Generating Quantum-Mechanical Superpositions of Macroscopically Distinguishable States via Amplitude Dispersion“; Yurke, B; Stoler, D; Physical Review Letters; 55:1, 1986. Cited 836 times.
A DNA-Fuelled Molecular Machine Made of DNA“; Yurke, B; Tuberfield, AJ; Mills, AP; et al.; Nature; 406:6796; 2000. Cited 830 times.

Dr. Yurke has made a wide range of contributions to science in multiple disciplines. Not only is Dr. Yurke an accomplished researcher, he is an inspiring role model and mentor to all levels of aspiring scientists from High School students to graduate students to faculty members. Leading scientific discovery is what inspires and motivates Dr. Yurke every day and in turn he inspires and motivates those around him. Dr. Yurke commented to me when we first met that “the joy of discovery is what motivates me most.” This sentiment is echoed through his body of work, the significance of his discoveries, and in his daily interactions with peers and students.

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