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NSF Press Release


Embargoed until 10 a.m. EDT

NSF PR 02-59 - July 12, 2002

Media contact:

 Bill Noxon

 (703) 292-8070

Program contact:

 Joanne Tornow

 (703) 292-8439

President Bush Names 20 NSF-Supported Young Scientists and Engineers for Awards

President Bush today honored 60 of the nation's best young scientists and engineers with the 2001 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

The awards were presented at the White House to 20 National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported researchers, and to 40 more scientists and engineers under programs sponsored by other federal departments and agencies. NSF is highly represented among the overall field because of the agency's large role in fundamental research among many science and engineering disciplines.

NSF's nominees for PECASE are drawn from junior faculty members receiving grants from NSF's CAREER program, considered the agency's most prestigious for new faculty members. CAREER participants are promising young researchers in science and engineering fields who have also translated their work into significant education activities. NSF provides significant monetary awards, which range from $200,000 to more than $700,000 over five years, to support the career development of these teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st Century.

"These young scientific leaders are pushing frontiers, communicating their unique knowledge to students and setting standards we all should emulate," NSF Director Rita Colwell said. "They have done ground-breaking work in sophisticated fields such as tissue engineering, smart materials, nanoscale electronic devices and polymers and DNA computing. A century ago, Nobel Prizes honored discoveries such as the X-ray and serum therapy for the highly contagious diphtheria. Today's awardees will push advances in bold, new interdisciplinary fields that seemed unimaginable only a short time ago -- but will keep our nation at the forefront of global innovation and make the world a better place in the 21st century."

Of the 20 NSF-supported PECASE recipients, seven are women and five are from underrepresented groups. They represent the best of the nearly 400 NSF CAREER program grant recipients in 2001. Just over 2,500 CAREER awards have been made since the program began in 1996.

With today's White House presentation, there are now 100 NSF-supported PECASE recipients among the 300 honored government-wide since the start of the award.

NSF honorees under PECASE receive no additional money beyond their initial CAREER grants, but the presidential recognition carries significant prestige, and recipients represent the best among young researchers and educators from the CAREER program.


For more information, see:
For more information on CAREER and PECASE, see:

Attachment: Summary of achievements of NSF-supported 2001 PECASE recipients.


Achievements of the NSF-Nominated 2001 PECASE Recipients

Dr. Philip John Bart, Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University, leads new studies in gathering and deciphering high-resolution seismic records of glacial deposits. The research is adding greatly to understanding the reasoning behind the advance and retreat of the Antarctic ice sheet during the recent geologic past. Bart innovatively integrates his research into both university and secondary school science teaching, serving as a role model for minority students.

Dr. Karen Jane Burg, Assistant Professor at Clemson University, has established a nationally recognized and innovative research program in breast tissue engineering for cancer patients, with the potential for widespread medical uses in areas such as liver repair, cartilage replacement and other conditions. Burg's K-12 educational awareness programs and outreach activities in bioengineering promote critical thinking in this growing field.

Dr. Brian David Conrad, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, is a leading theoretical research mathematician in the study of elliptical curves and is also at the forefront of study in arithmetic algebraic geometry and number theory. His excellence as an advisor has brought scholarships and awards for high school students and undergraduates, and his informal activities include creating high school and undergraduate mathematics clubs, and judging national and international-level science fairs.

Dr. Steven Andrew Cummer, Assistant Professor at Duke University, is developing an innovative technique for remote sensing of the least-explored upper regions of the atmosphere, using electromagnetic radiation from lightning to determine this region's variability and its connections to other atmospheric regions and climate. He is using this knowledge to develop an electromagnetics curriculum for the classroom and for graduate and undergraduate student training.

Dr. Elizabeth Anna Davis, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, is undertaking important research on how teachers, in the crucial first years of their professional experience, learn how to teach inquiry-based science using a supportive, technology-mediated learning environment that identifies the links between the teachers' learning, their practice of teaching, and students' learning. She is developing an integrated instructional resource, CASES, to help new teachers make sense of complex ideas about science teaching.

Dr. Reginald DesRoches, Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is conducting exceptional research in the use of "smart" materials, such as shape memory alloy technology for civil infrastructures to make them more seismic resistant and better able to dissipate energy in the case of earthquakes and other environmental exposure. His integrated education activities include hands-on research in civil engineering and international and industrial participation.

Dr. Douglas John Emlen, Assistant Professor at the University of Montana, leads an area of research that integrates developmental biology, behavior, genetics and evolution to clarify a fundamental biological question about how developmental and physiological constraints affect the evolution of extreme shapes in animals. Emlen also develops wide-ranging research experiences and courses in evolution for undergraduate students.

Dr. Michael C. Fitzgerald, Assistant Professor at Duke University, is researching molecular interactions that drive protein folding processes. He is developing a new mass spectrometry-based method to examine proteins that is expected to lead to more dramatic results in the study of complex binding interactions between multiple proteins and DNA. His well-thought-out plan to provide summer workshops for high school science teachers has received support from many area school principals.

Dr. Charles Forbes Gammie, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is a leading young researcher in astrophysics whose work is focused on building computer codes able to calculate the energy released when hot gas is pulled around black holes, which may eventually explain the enormous but unexplained energy of quasars. His "digital demo room," developed for undergraduate students, provides multi-level knowledge of numerical modeling in stellar evolution, supernovae and galactic structure.

Dr. Javier Garcia-Frias, Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware, is doing advanced research on iterative decoding techniques applied to communication channels with memory -- such as wireless -- that have potential to greatly benefit communications systems design, requiring a lessening of power requirements for transmitters and better use of available bandwith. His organized research experiences for advanced undergraduates, and his modernization of graduate course offerings, is attracting more students into electrical engineering and information sciences.

Dr. Richard Brent Gillespie, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, is doing groundbreaking research on haptic (touch exploration) devices that emulate the ability of humans to feel texture and other properties of objects. His work has potential for automated modeling of virtual tools, instruments and medical remote surgery techniques. He promotes expertise in his field by developing undergraduate and graduate courses with hands-on tools for teaching system dynamics and human-machine interaction.

Dr. Satyandra Kumar Gupta, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, is a leader in research that is influencing the future development of computer -aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems for multi-piece molds that will allow for many new product-based developments. His outreach to introduce high school students to CAD/CAM techniques, and his college-level curriculum that includes the study of geometric reasoning algorithms for mechanical engineering students is expected to expand this specific field to a new generation of engineers.

Dr. C. Allan Guymon, Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, is contributing outstanding research in photopolymer kinetics to predict and control the nanostructure of liquid crystalline systems, creating new possibilities for the polymer industry. He is bringing polymer science concepts to rural public high schools, especially to areas where there are large numbers of underrepresented students, incorporating a modified teaching module for introductory chemistry courses at community colleges and universities.

Dr. Sheena Sethi Iyengar, Assistant Professor at Columbia University, is undertaking groundbreaking behavioral research studies on individual limits of choice as they affect intrinsic motivation. Her work is helping lead to a better understanding of how cultural, individual, and situational dimensions of human decision-making can be used to improve people's lives. Through seminars and educational outreach, Iyengar teaches consumers how to manage everyday decisions, and coaches corporate leaders on developing innovative and feasible business plans.

Dr. Veena Misra, Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University, is conducting noteworthy research to advance the development of nanoscale electronic devices in an innovative vertical format, decreasing the size and increasing the power and efficiency of the next generation of silicon-based components. She is developing an electrical engineering course on vertical devices, instructional videotape for high school students, and a "nano-chip kit" for middle school students to introduce them to nanotechnology concepts.

Dr. Christine Ortiz, Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is conducting creative materials research studies on nanoscale properties of polymers inspired from nature that are bridging the physical and biological sciences, thus meeting the needs of new research priority areas in nanotechnology and biomaterials. Her innovative outreach activities include reaching high school teachers with a special course on nano- and biomaterials, and creating interdisciplinary undergraduate courses in biomaterials.

Dr. Mona Singh, Assistant Professor at Princeton University, has introduced advanced computational approaches to the prediction of protein function and interaction at the genomic level that will have impact in unraveling information about human and other genomes. Through her own experience in computer science and structural biology, she has pioneered interdisciplinary courses at both introductory and graduate levels in the growing field of bioinformatics, the method by which computers are used to synthesize vast quantities of raw biological data.

Linda K. Weavers, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University, is conducting rigorous research on advanced oxidation processes, especially on the kinetics and destruction mechanisms of a wide range of pollutants, which is expected to have value in the destruction of chemical warfare agents. Her mentoring programs for pre-high school and pre-college girls, through her workshops, help students explore real world facets of engineering, and are expected to increase enrollments and retention of women in engineering.

Erik Winfree, Assistant Professor at the California Institute of Technology, is leading research in DNA computing, which he is redefining by building the foundations of a new biomolecular computer, the applications of which will be most felt in nanotechnology, and also in physics by shedding new light on the formation of quasi-crystals and the controlled polymerization of biomolecules. Educationally, he is recognized for creating a first-of-its-kind course on synthetic and natural biomolecular computation, and for his highly distinguished teaching skills.

Dr. Jorge Gabriel Zornberg, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a leader in exploring new designs of efficient covers for landfills and hazardous waste sites in semi-arid climates, using a highly integrated approach of theoretical studies, laboratory and field testing, and numerical and physical modeling. Zornberg is deeply involved in sharing his knowledge with high schools, undergraduate and continuing education students, and internationally through collaboration with a Brazilian university.




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