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News Release 10-212

President Names Nation's Top Early Career Scientists and Engineers

President Obama announces PECASE awardees, 19 of whom were nominated by the NSF

Photo of Auburn University's Virginia Davis, one of 19 NSF-nominated PECASE winners for 2009.

Auburn University's Virginia Davis is one of 19 NSF-nominated PECASE winners for 2009.

November 9, 2010

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

President Barack Obama has announced the names of 85 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). Among the awardees, 19 were nominated by the National Science Foundation (NSF). These awardees 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.

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.

The 2009 NSF-nominated awardees are:

Scott J. Aaronson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for pushing the frontiers of quantum complexity theory, and for making the insights of theoretical computer science accessible to the general public.

David M. Amodio of New York University, for pursuing ground-breaking research on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of implicit racial bias, and for educating the public on how prejudice operates in society and engaging members of underrepresented groups in basic science and discovery.

Alexandre M. Bayen of the University of California, Berkeley for engaging in innovative research in large-scale, mobile, participatory sensing with application to traffic and river flow monitoring, and strong educational and community service activities.

Rachel E. Bean of Cornell University for working at the interface of astrophysical theory and observation to answer fundamental questions in the realm of cosmology, and for establishing well-received programs to increase the scientific knowledge of under-represented groups of all ages.

Magdalena Bezanilla of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for pioneering the use of mosses as powerful model systems to study plant cell biology and development, and training, including outreach to minorities as a model for the effective integration of research and education.

Jose H. Blanchet Mancilla of Columbia University for furthering research using simulation for estimating the likelihoods of rare but potentially catastrophic events, and for educating students using state-of-the-art Monte Carlo methods.

Virginia A. Davis of Auburn University for advancing the understanding of the interrelationships among nanomaterial dispersion microstructure, processing and properties for macroscale materials, and engaging in outreach activities involving K-12 students and students from underrepresented groups.

Jayne C. Garno of Louisiana State University for contributing to the development of new approaches for the measurement and imagining of magnetic nanoparticles with scanning probe microscopy, and for enhancing undergraduate research and increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in science, particularly African Americans.

Michael T. Laub of MIT for applying novel approaches to study co-evolution and function of two-component signal transduction systems as integrators of bacterial response to environmental cues, and active recruitment and training of women and minority students.

Steven K. Lower of the Ohio State University for developing tools to explore the forces that are at play during interactions between the microbial world and solid mineral surfaces, and education activities for improving science literacy across disciplinary boundaries.

Jerome P. Lynch of the University of Michigan for pioneering bio-inspired sensors research for health/safety monitoring of civil infrastructures, and for developing educational initiatives to motivate Detroit inner-city students to pursue engineering careers.

Malcolm A. MacIver of Northwestern University for increasing our understanding of how sensory signals are transformed into motor signals by the brain, with particular attention to neural constraints on this transformation, and for developing multidisciplinary courses that provide engineering students with training in neuroethology.

Shelie A. Miller formerly of Clemson University, now with the University of Michigan, for creating a framework for a predictive and dynamic Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool, and a public educational video regarding socio-economic and environmental aspects of bioenergy development.

Reza Olfati-Saber of Dartmouth College for advancing the frontiers of knowledge in mobile sensor networks, and for pursuing innovative educational and outreach activities in robotics for disaster management and rescue operations.

Laura E. Schulz of MIT for advancing innovative research on how children's exploratory play supports scientific reasoning, and creative work with science museums on improving exhibit design.

Joshua W. Shaevitz of Princeton University for helping to reveal the physics of the cytoskeleton and motors in eukaryotic cells, and for mentoring high-school and university students and bringing science to the general public.

Ivan Smalyukh of the University of Colorado at Boulder for contributing to soft matter physics studies of composite liquid crystal systems interfacing with nanoscience and optic/photonics, and leading outreach efforts in educating and mentoring students at all levels both nationally and internationally.

Edo Waks of the University of Maryland, College Park, for advancing the frontiers of knowledge in coherent interactions between photons and quantum dots using photonic crystals, and for engaging in education and outreach activities, including in local schools in Maryland.

Katrin Wehrheim of MIT for contributing to geometry and analysis, expositions of fundamental and emerging techniques in symplectic geometry, and for encouraging women and girls in mathematics at levels from middle school to junior university faculty.


Media Contacts
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF, (703) 292-8311, email:
Neali Vann, Auburn University, (334) 844-9979, email:
Pam Gorder, Ohio State University, (614) 292-9475, email:
Holly Evarts, Columbia University, (212) 854-3206, email:
James Devitt, New York University, (212) 998-6808, email:
Blaine Friedlander, Cornell University, (607) 254-8093, email:
James Erickson, University of Michigan, (734) 647-1842, email:
Nicole Casal Moore, University of Michigan, (734) 647-7087, email:
Catha Lamm, Dartmouth College, (603) 646-3943, email:
Lee Tune, University of Maryland, College Park, (240) 328-4914, email:
Kitta MacPherson, Princeton University, (609) 258-5729, email:
Sarah Yang, University of California, Berkeley, (510) 643-7741, email:
Patricia Tremmel, Northwestern University, (847) 491-4892, email:
Janet Lathrop, University of Massachusetts Amherst, (413) 545-2989, email:
Jennifer Hirsch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), (617) 253-1682, email:
Malinda Miller-Huey, University of Colorado at Boulder, (303) 492-3115, email: Malinda.Miller-huey@Colorado.EDU
Ashley K. Berthelot, Louisiana State University & Agricultural and Mechanical College, , 225/578-2870, email:

Program Contacts
Mayra N. Montrose, NSF, (703) 292-4757, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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