On Friday at the White House, President Barack Obama honored 94 women
and men with the United States government's highest honor for scientists
and engineers in the early stages of their independent research
careers--the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and
Barack Obama greets the 2010 PECASE recipients in the East Room of the
The National Science Foundation (NSF) nominated 21 of the awardees, who
come from universities around the country and excel in research in a
variety of scientific disciplines: biological sciences; computer and
information science and engineering; education and human resources;
engineering; geosciences; mathematical and physical sciences; and
social, behavioral and economic sciences.
The PECASE awards embody the high priority the Administration places on
producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nation's
goals and contribute to all sectors of the economy.
"It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these
scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers--careers that I
know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the
nation," Obama said when the awards were announced in September. "That
so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of
community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership,
not only as scientists but as model citizens.
"The awards, established by President Clinton in February 1996, are
coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the
Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected on the basis of
two criteria: pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science
and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated
through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.
This year's NSF-nominated awardees are:
Katherine E. Aidala, Mount Holyoke College
For her ambitious studies aimed at understanding critical charge
transport mechanisms in nanocrystal quantum dot materials, and for her
comprehensive education and mentoring activities for female
Hatice Altug, Boston University
For advancing the frontiers of proteomics to enable the discovery of
protein bio-markers for detection of disease, drugs and environmental
monitoring, and for innovative educational and outreach activities that
have helped students at all levels.
Amir S. Avestimehr, Cornell University
For pushing the frontiers of information theory through its extension to
complex wireless information networks and extensive outreach to
Joshua C. Bongard, University of Vermont
For innovative research in evolutionary robotics and work on robots that
can learn adaptive behaviors, and for active promotion of student
engagement through robotics experiments.
David J. Brumley, Carnegie Mellon University
For innovative and vital research on malware analysis and for strong
educational and outreach activities.
Elizabeth S. Cochran, U.S. Geological Survey
For developing a novel sensor technique to explore earthquake rupture
processes and for engaging citizen scientists, through K-12 and public
outreach in Southern California.
Noah J. Cowan, Johns Hopkins University
For innovative research in biologically inspired robotic systems with
application to disaster recovery and space exploration and for
motivating students to explore careers in science and engineering.
Xiangfeng Duan, University of California, Los Angeles
For demonstrating a commanding awareness of multiple areas of
nanoscience and nanotechnology and for the creation of a novel and
potentially very significant new class of carbon-based nanostructures.
Michael J. Escuti, North Carolina State University
For pioneering research in innovative liquid-crystal polarization
gratings and strong dedication to the education of students through
collaborations with international academic teams and industries, and for
active outreach in underserved communities.
Demetra C. Evangelou, Purdue University
For outstanding research into how early experiences can lead children to
pursue engineering later in life and for working with teachers from
diverse schools to develop new teaching materials and methods that can
help students become innovative and more technologically literate.
Benjamin A. Garcia, Princeton University
For innovative approaches to discovering how chemical modifications on
nuclear histone proteins can control gene activity during growth and
development, and for outstanding outreach to underserved students and
educators at community colleges.
Tina A. Grotzer, Harvard Graduate School of Education
For innovative research on how children can learn to reason about
complex causality and for inclusion of teachers, undergraduates and
graduate students in research and development activities.
Lasse Jensen, Pennsylvania State University
For addressing fundamental questions relevant to optical spectroscopy of
bio- and nano-systems and for exemplary teaching efforts and the
dissemination of computational tools to the chemistry community.
Benjamin Kerr, University of Washington
For studies of pathogen-host co-evolution as a function of transmission
through contact networks and for strong dedication to teaching and
mentoring, especially the devlopment of innovative curriculum materials
and outreach to students in underrepresented groups.
Benjamin L. Lev, Stanford University
For studying exotic forms of matter by manipulating the quantum states
of dipolar atoms--in the course of which the first ultracold gas of
dysprosium was trapped--and for outreach activities that brought atomic
and molecular physics to undergradutes, high school students, and
Elena G. Litchman, Michigan State University
For integration of theoretical and experimental studies to predict how
global environmental change modifies physical processes and
phytoplankton diversity and evolution within lakes, and for
interdisciplinary training and outreach to K-12 teachers.
Yasamin C. Mostofi, University of New Mexico
For groundbreaking research on compressive-sampling-enabled mobile
sensor networks, and for dedicated educational activities involving both
high school and community college students in robotics, with a
particular emphasis on motivating Native American students to pursue
Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi, State University of New York at Stony Brook
For outstanding research in the application of complex systems analysis
to neurodiagnostics of mental and neurological illness, and for
development of a K-12 curriculum in control systems modeling.
Andre D. Taylor, Yale University For
outstanding research on sustainable biofuel technologies, and for
educational and outreach activities that inspire high school and
university students, including students from underrepresented groups, to
pursue careers in sustainable energy.
Claudia R. Valeggia, University of Pennsylvania
For work on somatic, developmental, cultural and endocrine correlates of
key life history transitions, and for developing educational programs
for indigenous people, promoting student training, and aiding hospitals
to help determine infant feeding choices.
Maria G. Westdickenberg, Georgia Institute of Technology
For excellent research in applied mathematics, and leadership in
recruiting, training, and mentoring students from underrepresented