The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that Ashley Fidler, a postdoctoral researcher and physical chemist in the Weichman Lab, has been awarded a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, one of 12 such fellowships to be awarded at Princeton for the 2021-22 academic year in disciplines spanning the sciences and humanities.
Fidler will spearhead polariton research in the lab, applying her experience in ultrafast spectroscopy, instrument building, and experimental design to assist in launching the new group.
“I was super happy and really honored that I was selected,” said Fidler. “Certainly I know how important it is to increase the diversity of postdocs and retaining people all through the various levels of the academic hiring track. It’s something I’m very passionate about.
“This is an important program, and it’s good to see that Princeton has it in place. It’s now something that I can actively advocate for.”
In the Weichman lab, Fidler will work on developing a transient absorption and femtosecond stimulated Raman apparatus in order to probe vibrational strong coupling. This occurs when you confine a chemical reaction within an optical cavity – essentially a setup with two mirrors and the species of interest between them. When that cavity is perfectly tailored, Fidler explained, it yields some interesting chemistry effects that are not clearly understood.
“Our goal is to perform some basic chemical reactions that are well understood, both theoretically and experimentally, in these micro-cavities so we can develop theoretical benchmarks for theorists to look at,” said Fidler. “Then we can apply that, again systematically and methodologically, to more complex systems that are really important to synthetic chemistry or catalysis.”
Fidler earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where she developed new implementations of nonlinear attosecond spectroscopy in the extreme ultraviolet under the dual mentorship of Stephen Leone and Daniel Neumark. Fidler earned an MPhil in chemical engineering and biotechnology from Cambridge University, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Her undergraduate degree is from the College of William and Mary, where she studied biology and chemistry and completed an honors thesis on Drosophila fruit flies.
“The Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is designed in part to support women in STEM. It’s extremely important that exceptional female scientists be supported as they carry out postdoctoral research and continue their trajectories into independent careers and positions of leadership,” said Assistant Professor of Chemistry Marissa Weichman.
“It’s great to see that Princeton has made this commitment to support the postdoctoral work of members of under-represented groups. Ashley is exactly the kind of researcher and human being that the scientific research community should encourage and celebrate. I am thrilled that she was recognized with this award.”
This is the third year the University has made awards under the Fellowship program, which recognizes and support scholars who can contribute to a rigorous and diverse intellectual environment.