9 UC Berkeley professors receive Presidential Early Career Awards

Javad Lavaei/Courtesy

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Nine UC Berkeley faculty members were awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by the U.S. government July 2, according to a press release from the White House. 

The award, established by the National Science and Technology Council in 1996, is meant to recognize and honor outstanding scientists at the early stages of their independent research careers, according to the National Science Foundation website. It is the highest honor given to scientists and engineers at the beginning of their careers by the U.S. government. 

Each year, the awardees are chosen based on the recommendations of participating government agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services. Winners receive a citation, a plaque and funding to advance their research for up to five years, according to the National Science Foundation website. 

The nine winners of the award from UC Berkeley study a wide variety of research topics that range from detecting radiation emitted after the Big Bang to examining the different ways robots can interact with humans. 

Anca Dragan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and head of the InterACT lab, is among the nine winners. She was nominated by the National Science Foundation, according to a press release from the UC Berkeley College of Engineering. 

Dragan’s work with artificial intelligence was featured in Forbes last year, and she has received several awards and honors, such as the Okawa Prize and a Sloan Research Fellowship. 

Javad Lavaei, an associate professor in the campus department of industrial engineering and operations research, was nominated for the award by the Department of Defense. His work centers on control theory and data science, according to his website.

For me, this award was a recognition of my contribution to societal problems, such as power grids, and also an enabler to train the next generation of faculty members,” Lavaei said. “We are at an exciting time to address some major societal challenges, such as transforming cities and old infrastructures into smart cities.”

Contact Meera Srinivasan at [email protected].