President Barack Obama names 4 campus researchers as recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards

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President Barack Obama named a total of 106 recipients Thursday for the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, four of whom are campus-affiliated researchers.

The award, created by the federal National Science and Technology Council, is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to science and engineering professionals at the outset of their independent research careers.

Various federal departments and agencies nominate candidates whose previous research and accomplishments provide what they believe to be great promise in their respective fields.

Michael Stadler, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was one of the recipients of the award from the federal Department of Energy for his work on microgrids local energy grids that connect homes, businesses and other buildings to a central energy source.

In case of natural disasters, such as a hurricane, Stadler stated that microgrids, because of their small size, can be used as a substitute for a conventional utility grid.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services awarded Hillel Adesnik, campus assistant professor of neurobiology, for his work on neural technology and human behavior.

“I am very honored and fortunate to have received this award,” Adesnik said. “We hope to make real advances in neural technology that will help us to finally understand the brain and will advance knowledge on health and disease.”

Sayeef Salahuddin, campus associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, was awarded by the federal National Science Foundation for his work on reducing dissipation —   the loss of energy over time — in electronic devices.

“One grand challenge and a national security problem that can be solved is reducing electric dissipation with low-power alternatives,” Salahuddin said. “Our work will push the boundaries of how low energy can go.”

Pieter Abbeel, campus associate professor for electrical engineering and computer science, who has conducted research on robotics and machine learning and control, was nominated by the Department of Defense.

The federal agencies involved in the award process — as well as the Obama administration — encourage American innovation in science and engineering, economic growth and enhancing connections between research and national goals, according to a press release.

“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 the press release.

According to the National Science Foundation, to be eligible for the award, an individual must be a U.S. citizen and national or permanent resident. Each winner receives a citation, a plaque and funding for up to five years. Individuals can only receive one of these awards in their careers.

The winners will receive their awards in the spring in Washington, D.C.

Contact Sooyoung Hu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SHu_DCal