Arlington, Virginia - From helping Navy divers fight the potentially lethal effects of oxygen toxicity, to developing innovative biomaterials to treat human injury and disease, 12 researchers sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) were recently honored with Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recognition.

The PECASE awards are the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.

The White House’s selection of these 12 individuals underscores ONR’s fundamental objective: bringing about new capabilities for warfighters by leveraging the ideas of America’s best and brightest minds.

“ONR has an admirable track record for identifying and cultivating young talent by keeping current with the most innovative research being done in diverse fields,” said Dr. Ellen Livingston, the program officer who oversees the PECASE awards on behalf of ONR. “Working with cutting-edge scientists and engineers ensures that we get the most advanced capabilities to our Sailors and Marines.”

PECASE honorees sponsored by ONR include:

—Dr. Gaurav Bahl, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (mechanical devices that affect and manipulate light)
—Dr. Yuejie Chi, Carnegie Mellon University (high-dimensional data analysis and statistical signal processing)
—Dr. Blair Johnson, University at Buffalo, State University of New York (oxygen toxicity and its impact on divers)
—Dr. Javad Lavaei, University of California, Berkeley (control theory, optimization theory, power systems and data science)
—Dr. Benedetto Marelli, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (bio-inspired materials and additive manufacturing)
—Dr. Matthew McDowell, Georgia Institute of Technology (understanding how materials for energy and electronic devices change and transform during operation)
—Dr. Austin Minnich, California Institute of Technology (condensed matter physics, with a focus on transport phenomena and the simulation of quantum systems)
—Dr. Piya Pal, University of California, San Diego (super-resolution imaging for undersea signal processing)
—Dr. Padmini Rangamani, University of California, San Diego (integrating engineering principles and novel technologies with biomedical research)
—Dr. Anita Shukla, Brown University (innovative biomaterials for treating human injury and disease)
—Dr. Conor Walsh, Harvard University (robotic technologies for augmenting and restoring human performance)
—Dr. Roseanna Zia, Stanford University (control correlations, phase mapping and collective behavior in colloidal science)

This year, more than 300 researchers earned PECASE awards through their work for various government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA and the 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 awards were established in 1996 and are managed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. According to the White House website, recipients are chosen based on their pursuit of innovative research as well as their commitment to community service—whether through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Learn more about the PECASE awards.

Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.