Karin Rabe is a Board of Governors Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers University. She is a computational materials physicist with a particular interest in the use of first-principles quantum-mechanical calculations for the study of phase transitions and the theoretical design of new materials. Rabe was born in New York City in 1961. She went to the Bronx High School of Science and majored in physics at Princeton University. Following her PhD work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, advised by John Joannopoulos, and two postdoctoral years in the Theory Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories, she joined the Departments of Applied Physics and Physics at Yale University, with tenure in 1995, and moved to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers in 2000. Rabe is currently president of the Aspen Center for Physics.

Research Interests

Using computational methods to solve the quantum mechanics of crystalline solids from first principles, Karin Rabe studies systems at or near structural, electronic and magnetic phase transitions, including ferroelectrics, antiferroelectrics, piezoelectrics, high-k dielectrics, multiferroics and shape-memory compounds. The high sensitivity of such materials to applied fields and stresses gives rise to functional behavior with a broad range of technological applications, including information and energy storage and conversion. Rabe has a particular interest in the properties of non-bulk structures stabilized in strained thin layers and the distinctive properties of interfaces in superlattices and other artificially structured systems, which are most efficiently explored by first-principles-based modeling. She is currently focusing on the integration of first-principles methods with materials structure and property databases for the theoretical design of new materials with optimized or novel functional behavior and the discovery of new classes of functional materials.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 13: Physics