By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2014 – Twenty scientists and engineers funded by the Defense Department were part of a group honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on April 14.
A total of 102 scientists and engineers received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers, according to a White House news release.
The group received their awards in a ceremony at the Agriculture Department before heading to the White House, where Obama thanked them for their achievements.
“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” Obama said when the recipients were announced in December. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”
Award recipients are employed or funded by several departments or agencies in addition to the Defense Department, including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and the intelligence community.
The agencies join together annually to nominate scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring the nation’s dominance in science and engineering fields.
“Awardees are selected for 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,” the White House release said.
The awards were established by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.
The Defense Department recipients are:
-- Dr. Jennifer A. Dionne, Stanford University/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for pioneering contributions to the control of light-matter interactions on deeply sub wavelength scales, innovative work on nanoscale physical, chemical, and biological phenomena, and enthusiastic leadership and service;
-- Dr. Mohamed L. El-Naggar, University of Southern California/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for experimental and theoretical contributions in the field of biophysics, and for mentoring graduate and undergraduate students through highly interdisciplinary research and education activities linking the physical and biological sciences;
-- Dr. Gregory D. Fuchs, Cornell University/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for fundamental contributions in electronics and nanotechnology that will have applications throughout the Defense Department, and for dedication to mentoring graduate and undergraduate students;
-- Dr. Kristen L. Grauman, University of Texas at Austin/Office of Naval Research, for fundamental contributions to computer vision and machine learning, leadership in the research community, and dedication to mentoring students in the sciences;
-- Dr. Mona Jarrahi, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor/Office of Naval Research, for innovative work in the development of plasmonics for nanoelectronic and nanophotonic devices with terahertz applications, leadership in the area of terahertz technology, and dedication to outreach and mentoring activities;
-- Lane W. Martin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/Army Research Office, for outstanding research accomplishments relating to the synthesis and study of multifunctional materials and for dedication and commitment to mentoring students in the physical sciences;
-- Dr. Yael Niv, Princeton University/Army Research Office, for outstanding research achievements in the field of computational neuroscience, volunteer work with education and charity nonprofit groups, and dedication to mentoring students at all levels;
-- Dr. Derek A. Paley, University of Maryland/Office of Naval Research, for outstanding research achievements that apply methods from engineering and biology to the study of collective behavior in robotic and natural systems, and for dedication to teaching and mentoring students;
-- Dr. Greg A. Pitz, Air Force Research Laboratory, for fundamental contributions to alkali atomic spectroscopy; the development of hybrid lasers and modeling of innovative new designs that will have applications through the Defense Department, and for outreach and mentoring of high school, undergraduate and graduate students;
-- Dr. Ronald Polcawich, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, for outstanding research accomplishments and leadership in piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems, contributions to the protection of U.S. soldiers, and dedication to mentoring students in the sciences;
-- Dr. Rodney D. Priestley, Princeton University/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, for fundamental contributions to understanding the molecular origins of confinement effects on the stability and properties of glassy state polymers, and for a commitment to inspiring and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers;
-- Dr. Jeremy T. Robinson, Naval Research Laboratory, for outstanding research accomplishments in the development of graphene-based materials, dedication to community service, and mentoring work with students;
-- Dr. Onome Scott-Emuakpor, Air Force Research Laboratory, for exceptional contributions to the Air Force Research Laboratory in developing a new understanding of fatigue and fracture mechanisms in turbine engine components and for mentoring support of graduate and undergraduate students.
-- Dr. Ramon van Handel, Princeton University/Army Research Office, for outstanding research accomplishments in stochastic filtering and quantum filtering that will have significant impact on Defense Department operations and for dedication to teaching and mentoring students from underrepresented groups;
-- Dr. David M. Weld, University of California at Santa Barbara/Army Research Office, for outstanding research achievements in ultracold atomic physics that will have applications throughout the Defense Department and for mentoring activities with underprivileged students; and
-- Dr. Yongjie (Jessica) Zhang, Carnegie Mellon University/Office of Naval Research, for pioneering research in high-fidelity geometric modeling, computational biomedicine, material science and engineering and for dedication to mentoring students in emerging interdisciplinary research areas.
Recipients from the defense intelligence community are:
-- Dr. Joeanna Arthur, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, for expertise and thought leadership in applying advances in cognitive neuroscience to improving human performance, providing analysts and decision-makers with quantitative data that can be used to systematically improve actionable intelligence;
-- Dr. Lucy Cohan, Naval Research Office at the time of nomination, for award-winning, world-class research into the integrated design and modeling of the next generation of space telescopes employing lightweight, active mirror technologies;
-- Justin Jacobs, National Security Agency, for improving geo-location algorithms by reducing errors in base ellipsoids used to model the Earth's curved surface and for applying rigorous statistical analysis to the development of test plans and test results to document the success or failure of research programs; and
-- Dr. Charles Tahan, National Security Agency, for innovative contributions to quantum device and condensed matter physics, including silicon quantum computing, many-body photonics and quantum phonodynamics, and for community service including the creation and management of quantum research programs, leadership in the scientific community and public outreach.