David earned his AB in Physics and AM in History of Science from Harvard in 1994, and his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999, as a Hertz Fellow. During his Ph.D., David made the first demonstration of the Kondo effect in a semiconductor nanostructure. The Kondo effect is the interaction of a magnetic impurity atom with a surrounding metal host, and David's contribution enabled study of this classic system in a new and more tunable context, spurring a world-wide renaissance in this area. Also during this period, with colleagues at the MITRE Corporation he published an influential article examining the implications of novel nanoelectronic devices for computing. Following his Ph.D. he spent two years as a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, then joined the faculty at Stanford University.
David has received a number of distinctions. In 2002, he received the inaugural George E. Valley Prize of the American Physical Society. This prize is awarded every 2-3 years to one early-career individual, for his or her outstanding contribution to the knowledge of physics. Also in 2002, he received the University of Illinois's McMillan Award in condensed matter physics, the premier recognition for a young condensed matter physicist. More recently he received the 2006 Award for Initiatives in Research from the National Academy of Sciences (one awarded per year), and a Packard Fellowship. He has also received young investigator awards from the Navy, Air Force, Sloan Foundation, Research Corporation, National Science Foundation, and Hellman Faculty Scholars program.