Dr. Subra Suresh
National Science Foundation
Congratulatory Welcoming Remarks
Recognition Reception for NSF's Recipients of the 2009
Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
December 13, 2010
Photo by Sandy Schaeffer
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Dr. [Lance] Haworth. To our 19 presidential awardees, to their families and friends, let me say, on behalf of the National Science Foundation's 1,600 employees, it is a great honor to welcome you here. It is a distinct pleasure to meet such a splendid constellation of scientists and engineers.
This morning, at a marvelous ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 85 Americans received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Of those 85 awardees, the 19 of you here today were nominated by NSF. We at NSF are delighted to admit a special affection for this splendid score of scientists and engineers. The awardees individually and as a group embody the distinguishing principles we hold highest at NSF.
The National Science Foundation is often characterized as being "where discoveries begin." To speed discovery in science and engineering, we evaluate research grant proposals using a peer-review system and applying two essential criteria: The first is "scientific intellectual merit," and the second is the "promise of broader positive societal impact."
"Intellectual merit" refers to the capacity of the proposed research to possibly advance or even transform a field of exploration at the frontiers of the unknown, be it in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
To thrive at the frontier requires audacity, tenacity, and ingenious insight. Our PECASE awardees are still early in their independent careers, yet the light of their talent shimmers of great promise.
"Broader societal impacts" go beyond the "intellectual merit." It is a visionary capacity for the greater potential of the work to serve society in multiple ways.
Nearly 2,300 years ago, before there were very many documented "giants in science" on whose shoulders to stand, the Greek inventor Archimedes of Syracuse is credited with saying, "Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I will move the Earth."
For our purposes today of honoring our PECASE awardees, we will take some liberties with Archimedes' quote: "Give these PECASE scientists and engineers a place to work and an opportunity to serve, and I believe they will move our nation."
On behalf of the National Science Foundation, I offer you my warmest congratulations on winning the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering.
We salute your creativity, ingenuity, and generosity.
We intend to fuel your impulse to invent and your drive to serve.
We commend your commitment to inspiring and mentoring the next generation, and to shouldering the responsibilities of leadership in your community, across the nation, and around the world.
The gratitude and appreciation I extend to you is surpassed only by the admiration and pride of your families and colleagues.
We wish you long and fruitful careers as you speed discovery, serve the nation, and advance the prosperity of humanity.