FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 1, 2010
By Office of Naval Research, Corporate Strategic Communications
ARLINGTON, Va.-When the White House recently honored 85 up-and-coming scientists and engineers with five years of funding, it validated the efforts of federal agencies such as the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which has a history of investing in the next innovator.
Eight of the recipients of the 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, or PECASE, winners were funded by ONR. The White House acknowledged the winners last month.
PECASE honorees who received funding from ONR are: Dr. Eric Pop, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Martin Zwierlein, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Andrea Armani, University of Southern California; Dr. Adam Cohen, Harvard University; Dr. Farinaz Koushanfar, Rice University; Dr. Matthew Oehlschlaeger, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Dr. Willie Padilla, Boston College; and Dr. Eugenio Culurciello, Yale University.
Further validating ONR's sponsorship of emerging talent at the university level, seven of the eight ONR-funded researchers got a critical start with a Young Investigator Program, or YIP, award.
"The fact that seven of these awardees were young investigators is testament to the quality of ONR's sponsored research," said Dr. William Lukens, who manages YIP and several other ONR research programs. "YIP identifies and supports academic scientists and engineers early in their careers, and initiates a lifetime of research in support of ONR."
The program invests in academic scientists and engineers who show exceptional promise for creative study. YIP awardees represent top talent in the university community, Lukens said, indicating that these young men and women also support other Department of Defense (DoD) research needs.
But for Yale's Culurciello, ONR's core research program funded his work in miniaturizing instruments, making it possible for others to study cells in hyperbolic chambers. Comparing his miniaturization work to taking a shoebox-sized instrument and stuffing it into a USB drive, Culurciello said his PECASE award was the result of a collaborative effort.
"This device is not just a special instrument for the Navy," he said. "It is used in most labs. Most people studying cells can take advantage of this miniaturization."
The Ivy Leaguer's team is now working on NeuFlow, a supercomputing hardware for artificial vision.
"We call this 'the eye of the terminator' and it is soon going to be widely used in [DoD] systems," Culurciello said. He sees potential uses for NeuFlow ranging from autonomously driven cars to running unmanned systems for the military.
PECASE was established by President Clinton in 1996, and is coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy. 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.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.