In this installment of Senior Member Insights, OPN talks with Mark Auslender, an adjunct full professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (ECE-BGUN), Israel.
Auslender received his M.Sc. in theoretical physics from Ural State University, USSR (today, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia) in 1972. He received his Ph.D. in solid-state physics from the Institute of Metal Physics at the Ural’s Branch of the Academy of Sciences (today, Mikheev Institute of Metal Physics, RAS) in 1977. In 1986, Auslender was a senior researcher in magnetic semiconductors from the Higher Attestation Commission of the USSR.
At the beginning of 1991, he immigrated to Israel, and in December 1991 joined the Microelectronics Laboratory at the Department of ECE-BGUN as a researcher with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology. Since 1994, Auslender has taught courses on computational methods and special topics in electromagnetism. His research focuses on periodic nanostructures and metamaterials for optical sensors/detectors, optical coherence and graphene physics.
What first interested you in pursuing science?
I got interested in physics thanks to my school teacher. Fueled by this interest, I passed exams and enrolled in the physics department of a university. The final decision to pursue science came after the completion of my diploma work at an institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
What aspect of your current work do you find the most interesting or exciting?
As a former Soviet, I would like to rephrase Lenin’s motto: “The electron is as inexhaustible as the atom ...” in the following way. “The grating-based optical metamaterials are as inexhaustible as the optical materials themselves.”
What tips for successful networking do you have for early-career professionals?
Read and understand cutting-edge papers in the research field you tentatively chose. Feel free to privately contact the authors of these articles with questions and send them your articles. Try to join a leading research group in the field to complete M.Sc., Ph.D., or postdoc research.
What professional resources do you rely on to stay active and engaged with your field?
Conferences proceedings, regular journals, webinars, and seminars.
What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a career like yours?
I don’t think my career is a good role model. In my case, the most important are knowing to do the right mathematics and harmonically collaborating in a team.
What advice do you have for young scientists who are discouraged about their current work or career path?
To not give up—stay in pursuing science. If there is no way out in the current research field, switch to another one.
What has been the most motivating factor throughout your career?
The desire to reveal the true mechanisms of the studied phenomena and the attempt to learn new math and physics whenever it is possible.
What habits do you frequently rely on that help you to succeed?
My habits are doing accurate calculations/simulations and friendly collaboration.
If your ten-years-younger self was looking at your career now, what would he be most surprised by?
My biography shows that my “ten-years-younger self” does not precisely match my case. I would split “30-years-younger self” off it, back to my immigration beginning. Then I was a sort of a refugee who had not even a preliminary work agreement with any of the Israeli universities, figurately “thrown into the street.” Therefore, that self would be surprised by the fact that I was able to remain in my profession at all and change my research and teaching field so radically. In turn, the “ten-years-younger self” would be surprised by my present adjoint full professorship.