In Memoriam: Lena F. Kourkoutis, 1979-2023

Lena Kourkoutis, an associate professor in School of Applied and Engineering Physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, died on June 24. She was 44 years old and had been battling colon cancer.

in 2003, Dr. Kourkoutis received her undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Rostock in Germany. She then moved to Ithaca to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics, which she completed in 2009. Following a stint as a Humboldt Research Fellow in the Molecular Structural Biology Group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany, Dr. Kourkoutis joined the Cornell faculty in 2013 as an assistant professor in the School of Applied and Engineering Physics, where she became a Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow.

An expert in cryo-electron microscopy, Dr. Kourkoutis developed a new class of high-resolution, variable-temperature microscopy methods that have the capacity to study the physical, electronic, and atomic structure of materials at picometer precision. Her successes inspired the electron microscopy community and the U.S. Department of Energy to begin large-scale investments in new designs of cryo-microscopes optimized for materials science.

Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering at Cornell stated: “She brought out the best in those around her. Her brilliance, humanity, and grace touched faculty, staff, and students in every corner of Cornell, and she left us much too soon. Both professionally and personally, this is a profound loss for the Cornell Engineering community.”

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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