John Nees wins Research Scientist Award from the College of Engineering

Nees is honored for his excellence in research and scholarship, as well as his distinguished career as a key member of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science.

John Nees Enlarge
John Nees

John Nees, Associate Research Scientist, has received the Kenneth M. Reese Outstanding Research Scientist Award from the College of Engineering. This award honors research scientists who have “demonstrated sustained excellence in research and related scholarly activities.”

Nees joined the University of Michigan in 1988, and has been one of the key researchers at the Gérard Mourou Center for Ultrafast Optical Science(CUOS).

Nees serves as a director of the Relativistic Lambda Cubed Laser in CUOS, and led its design and development. This is the first millijoule-level and kilohertz repetition rate ultrashort pulse laser system, which incorporates adaptive optics in the beam focusing. Nees and his colleagues showed that this laser could drive laser plasmas into the relativistic regime at the kilohertz repetition rates, while previous relativistic laser sources could operate only at a few Hertz repetition rate at best. Consequentially, this enabled high average power and high brightness secondary radiation sources, as well as efficient signal averaging previously not available in the relativistic regime.

“He is a pivotal member of CUOS, highly valued due to his extensive technical expertise, and numerous technical contributions,” says Prof. Almantas Galvanauskas. “But equally so –  for his boundless enthusiasm, which, as a team player, he brings to bear with a great effect in his interactions with all CUOS members, binding different groups and researchers, as well as students and faculty of the center together.”

Nees has published more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has more than 100 conference contributions. He was elected Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2018.

During his career, Nees engineered a multitude of technical contributions. He advanced optoelectronic measurement techniques, improved ultrashort-pulse laser technology, and helped develop a variety of scientific applications of high-intensity ultrashort-pulse lasers, such as laser plasma acceleration, x-ray and EUV laser plasma sources, novel approaches for generating attosecond pulses, laser driven generation of neutrons, and more.

In addition to his research, Nees is known for his excellent mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral research fellows. He has taught numerous courses and consistently receives high evaluations. He is much loved by the graduate students working at CUOS, as he is always keen to share his extensive technical expertise.

“Anyone who has ever met John knows that one of the truly wonderful things about him both professionally and personally is that he always has time for anyone – student (from high school intern to PhD student), postdoc, staff, or faculty – to lend a hand with any of the myriad details that go into running a lab, class, or research center,” says Ted Norris, Gérard A. Mourou Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “He is the indispensable link that makes great new interactions possible between CUOS and people in other departments and programs.”