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White House Honors Two Georgia Tech Professors

Two Georgia Tech professors have received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Two Georgia Tech professors have received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the White House.

Baratunde Cola, assistant professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and Meghan Duffy, assistant professor in the School of Biology, are two of 96 recipients nationwide, according to a Georgia Tech press release.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.   

According to the White House, the PECASE awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges and contribute to the American economy.  

Cola is director of the NanoEngineered Systems and Transport Lab (NEST). According to the White House, he was selected for his outstanding research on energy conversion, nanoscale transport and materials; and for significant outreach and educational activities involving K-12 science and art students and teachers from disadvantaged minority communities. 

Cola believes that, with jobs and energy arguably at the center of public discourse right now, his research on nanoengineered energy technologies is highly relevant, and the possibilities are very exciting. 

“The challenges and opportunities of nanoscience and nanoengineering have attracted many great minds to these fields, which makes interactions with students and colleagues within the community very rewarding personally,” Cola said in the release. “Most of all, I have found that the mix of energy and nanoengineering has opened wide the door to a multifaceted life as a teacher-researcher-entrepreneur, which is exactly where I want to be right now. “         

Duffy was selected for her research on rapid evolutionary educational opportunities for college students in underrepresented minority groups and inner-city K-12 students in Atlanta. 

“My lab has begun to do work on parasites that can infect multiple host species, which are known as multihost parasites,” said Duffy. “The system I work on allows us to study these parasites in natural settings, as well as do manipulative experiments on them in the lab, which is a rare and powerful combination. We're hoping to figure out things like how parasites jump from one host to another, and the challenges they need to overcome in order to infect multiple host species.” 

Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach. 

See information on last year’s awards.

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