Physicist named fellow of the American Physical Society

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
October 19, 2022

Roya Zandi, a professor of physics and astronomy at UCR, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society, a non-profit organization that advances knowledge of physics.

Roya Zandi
Roya Zandi.

Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers. Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the society’s membership is recognized by their peers for election to the status of fellow of the society.

The citation that will appear on Zandi’s certificate is: “For the application of fundamental theories of elasticity, electrostatics, and phase transitions to elucidate unique physical phenomena arising in viral capsid formation, notably the origin of icosahedral symmetry, the role of disclinations, and the branched topology of RNA genomes.”

Zandi received her doctoral degree in physics at UCLA in 2001. Prior to joining the faculty at UCR in 2005, she did postgraduate research at UCLA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research is in the fields of statistical mechanics and soft condensed matter physics, giving her the opportunity to work in broad interdisciplinary areas. 

She has conducted research in the statistical mechanics of both neutral and charged polymers, the dynamics of the passage of polymers through membrane pores, knot theory, and Casimir forces. Currently, Zandi is the director of the Biophysics Graduate Program at UCR. One of the main components of her research focuses on the physics of viruses — research that has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation. She is also the principal investigator of a UC Multicampus Research Program and Initiative award.

Zandi received various graduate fellowships during her doctoral studies. In July 2002 she was awarded the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2007, while an assistant professor, she received a National Science Foundation Career Award. At UCR, she has organized and participated in outreach programs designed to involve underrepresented children in science, focusing primarily on local female middle school students. In 2019 she received the Commitment to Graduate Diversity Award, which recognizes UCR faculty who have made an outstanding contribution to training, and encouraging the diversity of, graduate students. In 2021, she was selected as the Endowed Term Chair for Inclusive Excellence on account of her exceptional research and record of graduating a number of diverse students in her research group.