Nine young professors receive Presidential Early Career Awards

Berkeley recipients of the 2019 PECASE awards: Thomas Maimone, Barna Saha, Javad

Berkeley recipients of the 2019 PECASE awards: Thomas Maimone, Barna Saha, Javad Lavaie, Alvin Cheung, Wenjun Zhang, Lin Lin, Aaron Parsons, James Olzmann and Anca Dragan. (UC Berkeley collage courtesy of Hulda Nelson)

Nine young faculty members, including two hired just a week ago, have been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers. President Donald J. Trump made the announcement last week.

The nine were among more than 300 chosen from nearly every state in the union, 49 of them from California alone.

The new members of the 2019 PECASE awardees are:

Alvin Cheung , a newly appointed assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has an interest in data management systems and optimization of data applications. He was nominated by the Department of Energy when he was on the faculty at the University of Washington.

Anca Dragan is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and head of the InterACT Lab, which researches the interaction of robots with people. She was nominated by the National Science Foundation.

Javad Lavaei , an associate professor of industrial engineering and operations research, is applying his expertise in control theory and optimization to energy and efficient power distribution. He was nominated by the Department of Defense.

Lin Lin , an associate professor of mathematics, works on developing efficient and accurate numerical methods for electronic structure calculations, with broad applications in quantum chemistry, quantum physics and materials science. He was nominated by the Department of Energy.

Thomas Maimone is an associate professor of chemistry who pursues innovative solutions to the total synthesis of complex, biologically active natural products with relevance to issues of human health. He was nominated by the National Science Foundation.

James Olzmann , an associate professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology, studies how the body’s cells make storage organs, in particular the storage droplets for fat molecules called lipids. He was nominated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Aaron Parsons , an associate professor of astronomy, is a radio astronomer currently involved in a project to detect radiation from the era after the Big Bang when stars first began to shine. He was nominated by the National Science Foundation.

Barna Saha , a newly appointed assistant professor of industrial engineering and operations research, is an expert on computer algorithms. She was nominated by the National Science Foundation when she was an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Wenjun Zhang , an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the Charles Wilke Professor in Chemical Engineering, explores the microbial synthesis of molecules of importance to public health and bioenergy. She was nominated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The awards, established by President Bill Clinton in 1996, highlight the key role that the president’s administration plays in encouraging and accelerating American innovation. They recognize those who demonstrate exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology, public education or community outreach.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE with participating federal departments and agencies.