The Microscopy Society of America (MSA) has chosen UCSC electrical engineer Michael Isaacson to receive its 2010 Distinguished Scientist Award for the Physical Sciences.

Isaacson is the Narinder Singh Kapany Professor of Optoelectronics in the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on topics ranging from electron microscopy to nanofabrication of materials.

The MSA Distinguished Scientist Award recognizes preeminent senior scientists who have a long-standing record of achievement during their career in the field of microscopy or microanalysis. The award will be presented in August at the annual meeting of the MSA in Portland, Oregon.

Isaacson has made important contributions in many areas of microscopy, helping to develop technologies that now allow scientists to characterize materials at the level of individual atoms. These techniques include near-field scanning optical microscopy and atomic-resolution electron microscopy, both used to study objects at the nanoscale (where distances are measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter). Isaacson is currently working on a text for Cambridge University Press entitled Microscopic Nanocharacterization of Materials: Physics and Methodology.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Isaacson has served as president of the MSA and on the executive board of the Engineering Research Council of the American Society for Engineering Education. He has received numerous awards for his research, including a Sloan Foundation Faculty Fellowship, an Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, the MSA Burton Medal, and the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics.

Isaacson received his B.S. in engineering physics with highest honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago. He has been on the scientific staff in the Biology Division of Brookhaven National Laboratory, a member of the faculty in the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, and a professor of applied and engineering physics at Cornell University. He joined the faculty at UC Santa Cruz in 2003.