Press Release

President Obama Honors Early Career Scientists and Engineers

By SpaceRef Editor
July 24, 2012
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Awardees, including 20 nominated by NSF, represent science and engineering expertise across a breadth of disciplines and research areas

Obama today announced the names of 96 women and men who will receive 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 Engineers (PECASE).

Twenty Americans nominated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) are among those awardees. Together they represent a rich breadth of research disciplines which include engineering, geology, biology, economics, physics and computational science.

The PECASE awards represent 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. “With expertise in fields such as advanced computation, nanotechnology, environmental sciences and neurological engineering, these bright scientists and engineers still early in their careers, embody America’s greatest hope for the future,” said NSF Director Subra Suresh. “Each will address a pressing issue facing our society; all will advance the health, security and competitiveness of our nation.”

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. Award nominees are considered according to two criteria: their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

All NSF-nominated awardees for 2011 excel in these areas. All but two are assistant professors. David C. Noone and Luis von Ahn are associate professors in their respective universities. Awardee names, disciplines and affiliations are listed below.

– Baratunde A. Cola of the Georgia Institute of Technology for work in energy conversion and nanotechnology.
– Brady R. Cox of the University of Texas at Austin (when nominated, at the University of Arkansas) for research in earthquake engineering.
– Meghan A. Duffy of the University of Michigan (formerly at the Georgia Institute of Technology) for examining rapid evolutionary processes.
– Joshua S. Figueroa of the University of California, San Diego for work in chemistry with applications in alternative energy and sustainable science and technology.
– Michael J. Freedman of Princeton University for designing, building and prototyping cloud computer storage.
– Erin M. Furtak of the University of Colorado Boulder for innovative research in the professional development of teachers.
– Bernard S. Gaudi of Ohio State University for study in the demographics of exoplanetary systems.
– Curtis E. Huttenhower of Harvard University for providing a framework for data mining genome databases.
– Christopher A. Mattson of Brigham Young University for progressive research that enables product design for sustainable poverty alleviation.
– David C. Noone of the University of Colorado Boulder for research on the cycling of water and carbon dioxide through the atmosphere.
– Parag A. Pathak of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for economics research on market design, education and housing.
– Alice L. Pawley of Purdue University for research on root causes of underrepresentation in engineering degree programs.
– Amy Lucia Prieto of Colorado State University for ambitious materials research with battery and energy storage applications.
– Maryly Sanchez of Iowa State University for extensive study of neutrinos and particle physics.
– Sridevi V. Sarma of John Hopkins University for the design and control of electrical deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
– Suzanne M, Shontz of Pennsylvania State University for research in computational and data-enabled science and engineering.
– Jennifer Wortman Vaughan of the University of California, Los Angeles for groundbreaking research in machine learning and social network theory.
– Mariel Vazquez of San Francisco State University for work in at the interface of mathematics and biology.
– Luis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon University for work in computer science, including the development of CAPTCHA, used industry-wide to verify authenticity in transactions conducted online.
– Brent R. Waters of the University of Texas at Austin for research in cryptography and computer security.

Media Contacts
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF (703) 292-8311
Program Contacts
Mayra N. Montrose, NSF (703) 292-4757
Related Websites
President Obama Honors Outstanding Early-Career Scientists:

SpaceRef staff editor.