Andrew Houck '00 (Frank Wojciechowski)

A decade ago, Andrew Houck ’00 stood out as a star undergraduate in Princeton’s electrical engineering department. Today, the quantum-computing expert and former valedictorian continues to impress as a leading researcher and an associate professor at the University. He was one of 85 scientists selected to receive the 2010 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the U.S. government’s highest honor for science and engineering researchers in the early stages of their careers. (Other Presidential Early Career Award recipients included Emily A. Weiss ’00, an assistant professor of chemistry at Northwestern, and Joshua Shaevitz, an assistant professor of physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton.)

Honors are nothing new for Houck. As an undergraduate, he received two major University prizes in his first two years – the Freshman First Honor Prize and the George B. Wood Legacy Sophomore Prize – and delivered Princeton’s valedictory address before his 21st birthday. He also earned a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

While completing his Ph.D. studies in experimental physics at Harvard, Houck co-authored a paper that showed how specially tailored “left-handed” materials could bend light in the “wrong” direction. The finding was named a runner-up in Science magazine’s 2003 “breakthrough of the year” issue. Since joining the Princeton faculty in 2008, Houck has earned a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Research Fellowship. His innovative work in quantum computing also landed him on the TR35, Technology Review’s list of young innovators, in 2009.

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.