UW professors to receive 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Steve Brunton

Steve Brunton

Six University of Washington professors are to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, according to an announcement July 2 from the White House. The award, also known as the PECASE, is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to early-career scientists and engineers "who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.”

Steve Brunton , an associate professor of mechanical engineering and a data science fellow with the eScience Institute, was nominated by the Army Research Office in the Army Research Laboratory.

Brunton is a mechanical engineer whose research focuses on data-driven modeling and control of complex systems, such as studying how turbulent fluids behave. Brunton was nominated for his work on using machine learning to develop efficient models that accurately describe the complexities of fluid mechanics. These models will then be used in part for designing better aircraft and more efficient energy systems.

Jiun-Haw Chu , an assistant professor of physics and faculty member with the Clean Energy Institute, was nominated by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Chu was nominated for his research on high-temperature superconductivity and materials with unique properties emerging from the laws of quantum mechanics, the probability-based rules that govern the behavior of matter at the subatomic level. These materials could revolutionize telecommunications and other fields. Chu uses strain tuning, a method he developed, to deform the 3D crystalline structure of materials and probe them for exotic combinations of quantum-level properties for applications in the laboratory, industry and beyond.

Sara Lindström , an assistant professor of epidemiology and faculty member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was nominated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Lindström is a genetic epidemiologist with an interest in understanding how genetics contributes to common complex diseases, such as cancer. She was nominated for her work investigating the shared genetic origin of different types of cancer, using genetic data on more than 500,000 individuals. Her research will inform future study designs and help identify global biological mechanisms that underlie cancer development and progression.

Elizabeth Nance , an assistant professor of chemical engineering and faculty member with the Center on Human Development & Disability and the Molecular & Engineering Sciences Institute, was nominated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Nance’s research focuses on developing nanotechnology-based therapeutics to treat diseases and injuries to the brain. Using a combination of tissue imaging techniques, nanotechnology approaches and data science tools, she models the conditions present in different brain microenvironments - information needed to streamline the development of more effective and more precise nanoscale therapeutics to repair and protect the core of our central nervous system.

Laura Prugh , an associate professor of environmental and forest sciences, was nominated by the National Science Foundation.

Prugh is a wildlife ecologist whose research explores interactions among species and the response of wildlife communities to global change. Prugh was nominated for her work that looks at the effects large carnivores have on smaller carnivores, particularly as animal distributions change rapidly worldwide. As part of this project, Prugh is studying the impacts gray wolves have on coyotes and bobcats as wolves naturally recolonize Washington state.

Alvin Cheung , currently an assistant professor of computer science and engineering, also received a PECASE. Cheung, who was nominated by the U.S. Department of Energy, will join the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley later this summer.

In addition, Kevin Schneider , a chief engineer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory , received a PECASE. Schneider, who is also a UW affiliate associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was nominated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The PECASE was established in 1996 to recognize the contributions that scientists and engineers have made to STEM fields, as well as education, leadership and public outreach. Participating federal departments and agencies nominate scientists for consideration. Final awards are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.

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