Newswise — Two Spelman alumnae have been named recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to young researchers in the early stages of their independent research careers.
Monica Cox, Ph.D., assistant professor of engineering education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Adrienne Stiff-Roberts, Ph.D., assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke University in Durham, N.C., will receive the award from President Barack Obama during a fall ceremony at the White House. In 2007, Chekesha Liddell, Ph.D., assistant professor in materials science and engineering at Cornell University, also C'98, received the PECASE.
Dr. Cox's award cites her focus on better understanding how to prepare graduate engineering students for careers in academia and industry by identifying norms, skills and attributes that are essential for people with engineering doctorates to possess. She joined Purdue in 2005. Dr. Cox, who majored in mathematics at Spelman, earned a master's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama in 2000 and a doctorate in leadership and policy studies from Vanderbilt University in 2005.
Dr. Stiff-Roberts' award focuses on her contributions to the development of nanoscale structures known as quantum dots, which may be used to improve night vision technology, infrared sensing and solar cells. She joined Duke in 2004. Dr. Stiff-Roberts, who majored in physics at Spelman, earned her doctorate at the University of Michigan while pursuing her graduate studies, which she completed in spring 2004 with a doctorate in applied physics and a master's in electrical engineering. Dr. Stiff-Roberts also holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Dr. Liddell was recognized for her work with self-assembly of artificial crystal structures from colloidal particle building blocks, which have properties that may enhance strength of interaction between light and matter. She received a bachelor's in chemistry from Spelman College and a bachelor's of materials engineering from Georgia Tech. Dr. Liddell joined the Cornell University faculty in November of 2003, after receiving a doctorate from Georgia Tech.
All mentored by the late Etta Falconer, Ph.D., the former Callaway Professor of Mathematics, who spent 37-plus years on the faculty at Spelman, Drs. Stiff-Roberts and Liddell were also dual-degree majors, which provides the opportunity to obtain both a liberal arts education and a professional engineering education.
PECASE embodies the high priority the administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nation's goals and contribute to all sectors of the economy. Nine federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious young scientists and engineers — researchers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for strengthening America's leadership in science and technology and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions.
"These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country," President Obama said. "With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world."
The awards, established by President Clinton in February 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.
Awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: Pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. Winning scientists and engineers receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions.