By Katherine H. Crawford, Office of Naval Research
ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Six researchers funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) were honored with Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the nation's highest honor for young scientists and engineers, officials announced Aug. 10.
The White House's selection of these six individuals underscores ONR's fundamental objective, which is to bring about new capabilities for warfighters by leveraging the ideas of the best and brightest minds the nation has to offer.
"ONR has always had an excellent ability to identify and foster young talent by keeping current with the most innovative research being done in various fields," said Dr. Michael Kassner, ONR director of research. "Working with top scientists and engineers ensures that we get the most advanced capabilities to our Sailors and Marines."
Honorees funded by ONR include: David M. Blei, Princeton University; Alejandro L. Briseno, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Lee R. Cambrea, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Research and Intelligence Department; Chiara Daraio, California Institute of Technology; Keith Edward Knipling, Naval Research Laboratory; and Ao Tang, Cornell University received the PECASE for outstanding contributions to their respective fields.
"I am absolutely humbled to be able to represent polymer science at UMass in this award," Briseno said. "I hope my receiving this accolade can inspire other young scientists and engineers to continue pursuing their scientific ideas, just as it inspired me. I would also like to thank my program manager, Paul Armistead, at ONR for supporting my research to push the fundamental limits of organic and polymer electronics."
Briseno, Blei and Daraio also are past winners of ONR's Young Investigator Program (YIP), a prestigious grant awarded to scientists and engineers with exceptional promise for producing creative and cutting-edge research. Each YIP recipient receives approximately $170,000 annually over three years for research efforts that appear likely to advance naval technology. ONR's YIP is one of the oldest such programs in the nation.
ONR has a proud tradition of funding rising researchers and scientists who are making important contributions to the Department of the Navy. In 2011, five ONR-funded researchers were recognized with the presidential honor.
This year, a total of 96 researchers earned PECASE awards through their work for various government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA and National Science Foundation. Agencies annually nominate the best and brightest scientists and engineers whose early achievements appear beneficial to keeping the nation on the leading edge of scientific discovery.
The PECASE were established in 1996 and are managed by the Executive Office of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. According to the White House website, recipients are chosen based on their pursuit of innovative, state-of-the-art research as well as their commitment to community service, whether through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.
ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 30 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and more than 900 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,065 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.