6 Early-Career NASA Scientists Gain a Top Presidential Award

Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers,
Six NASA researchers have received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, including one focused on planetary protection. (Image credit: NASA)

NASA can claim six recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers this year — an award considered among the highest for early-career researchers.

President Barack Obama announced 105 new award winners on Feb. 18, includingsix researchers from NASA or NASA-affiliated universities. Their research explores planetary protection, nanodevices, self-healing metals and more.

The award is the highest given by the U.S. government for early-career scientists and engineers, and the following winners were lauded by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden as "some of the best and brightest talent in our agency and our university partners."

  • Dr. James Benardini — planetary protection; NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
  • Dr. Jin-Woo Han — nanodevices and nanoelectronics; NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
  • Dr. Michele Manuel — self-healing metals; University of Florida, Gainesville.
  • Dr. Andrew Molthan — cloud microphysics; NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • Dr. Colleen Mouw — oceanography and public health; Michigan Technological University, Houghton.
  • Dr. Vikram Shyam — technical innovation in fundamental aeronautics; NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

PECASE winners will receive the award later this year in Washington. While the date of the ceremony has not yet been announced, the complete list of the winners was made available in a White House statement.

President Bill Clinton established the awards in 1996, and they are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness," Obama said in thestatement. "We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people."

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Susanna Speier
Susanna Speier is a Space.com contributor and freelance journalist. You can follow her on Twitter, send space story tips through Linkedin and shop her handmade planetary science accessory line on Etsy.