Alberto Pimpinelli is the Executive Director of the Smalley-Curl Institute of Rice University, Houston, since January 2015, as well as Research Professor in Rice’s Materials Science and Nanoengineering Department, Full Professor of Physics at the Université Blaise Pascal in ClermontFerrand (France) and Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland in College Park.
From 2008 to 2012 he was one of the Attaches for Science and Technology of the French Embassy in the US.
Trained as a theoretical physicist, Alberto Pimpinelli obtained his PhD from the University of Parma (Italy) with a thesis dealing with statistical mechanics models of magnetism in insulating systems. His interests shifted to crystal surfaces and crystal growth when, thanks to fellowships of the Italian Accademia dei Lincei and of the European Union, he left Italy for the Centre d'Etudes Nucléaires and then the Laue Langevin Institute in Grenoble (1991-97). In 1997, Alberto Pimpinelli was appointed Professor at the Universite Blaise Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand, where he taught statistical and solid state physics, as well as introductory courses to nanosciences. In 2004 he was invited to the MRSEC at the University of Maryland, where he was appointed Visiting Professor the following year. In 2008 he started his 4-years spell in scientific diplomacy at the French Consulate in Houston, and was hired by Rice University in 2012. He has been an expert reviewer for many institutions and scientific agencies (MNEST, ANR, NSF, NASA, EU, EC, Romanian Government)
He has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and book chapters, and has been invited to talk in many international conferences. With Jacques Villain, he has written Physics of Crystal Growth (Cambridge University Press, 1998).
He continues to be interested in the theory of crystal growth and thin-films nucleation, a domain in which he has given important contributions in relation to the morphological stability of crystal surfaces out-of-equilibrium, in particular in multicomponent systems, as well as to the theory of island nucleation and capture-zone distributions in epitaxial deposition. At present, Alberto Pimpinelli is working on diverse topics as understanding the formation of films of organic molecules, the morphological evolution of plasmonic nanoparticles as a function of temperature and environment, the molecular transport in nanochannels inside drug-delivery devices, the modeling of collective behavior in complex systems, as well as selected topics in Medieval literature.