Nov 8, 2023

UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Two UCLA Samueli School of Engineering assistant professors — Sergio Carbajo and Jun Chen — have received the Young Investigator Program Awards from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in support of their respective research.

Established in 2008, the awards support early-career faculty members who show exceptional promise and creativity in their research. Carbajo and Chen will each receive a three-year, $750,000 grant to support their research, joining 22 other recipients honored in the 2024 award cohort

Sergio Carbajo, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, directs the Quantum Light-Matter Cooperative at UCLA. He received his grant through the ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department. The award will help support his research in improving real-time control of lasers during unpredictable situations and their ability to compensate for atmospheric weather conditions using novel quantum sensing techniques. Carbajo has received several honors for his work as a researcher, including the Young Investigator Award from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the International Society for Optics and Photonics’ Early Career Achievement Award. Carbajo also holds an appointment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University.

Jun Chen, an assistant professor of bioengineering, directs UCLA’s Wearable Bioelectronics Research Group. He received his grant through ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department. The funded research project aims to improve wearable acoustic sensors, making them more flexible and practical for tactical communications. Chen has previously received other awards for his early-career work, including the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Young Investigator Award, the Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society’s Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division and the Materials Today Rising Star Award. He has also been named to the global list of Highly Cited Researchers, compiled annually by analytics firm Clarivate, for five years in a row.

As an executive branch agency within the Department of Defense, the ONR provides technical advice to the chief of naval operations and the secretary of the Navy. Recent UCLA Samueli recipients of the Young Investigator Awards include Xiang “Anthony” Chen, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Kunihiko “Sam” Taira, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.