UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab scientists receive presidential award

Three researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley were named recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by President Barack Obama Monday.

The three researchers, who were chosen along with 91 other recipients, were Christian Bauer, a researcher in the physics division of Berkeley Lab, Feng Wang, a researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences division and an assistant professor of physics at UC Berkeley, and Fotini Chow, associate professor of civil engineering at UC Berkeley.

Bauer was recognized for developing computational tools that will allow physicists at the Large Hadron Collider to distinguish new discoveries from known processes.

“The award is the highest award given to young scientists,” he said. “It is a great honor to receive such an award.”

Wang pioneered research on ultrafast optical characterization of carbon nanostructures, while Chow was awarded for her fundamental research on the simulation of atmospheric turbulence, which has wide-ranging applications, including the dispersal of plumes resulting from atmospheric releases of radioactive or toxic material.

In addition to a plaque and a citation, which each recipient will receive during an official White House ceremony on Oct. 14, the selected researchers will be given research funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for up to five years — except for Bauer, who will be given no extra funding because he is already receiving funding from the department through the Early Career Research Program Award, which he won two years ago.

“The financial support is very important to students and postdocs for continuing the research,” Wang said. “Recognition itself is also a very good encouragement.”