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CHIPS Articles: Young Guns: Up-and-Coming ONR Talent Honored by White House

Young Guns: Up-and-Coming ONR Talent Honored by White House
By Warren Duffie, Office of Naval Research - May 12, 2016
ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) — For achievements in fields ranging from robotic learning to photovoltaics (converting solar energy into electricity), six researchers sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) were honored with Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) — the nation's highest honor for young scientists and engineers, officials announced May 12.

The White House's selection of these six individuals underscores ONR's fundamental objective: bringing about new capabilities for warfighters by leveraging the ideas of America's best and brightest minds.

"ONR has always had an excellent ability to identify and foster young talent by keeping current with the most innovative research being done in various fields," said Dr. Larry Schuette, ONR director of research. "Working with cutting-edge scientists and engineers ensures that we get the most advanced capabilities to our Sailors and Marines."

PECASE honorees funded by ONR included:

  • Dr. Pieter Abbeel, University of California, Berkeley (machine learning and robotic perception and manipulation of objects)
  • Dr. Dino Di Carlo, University of California, Los Angeles (fluid inertia for precision control of cells and particles)
  • Dr. Patrick E. Hopkins, University of Virginia (nanoscale heat transfer and interfacial thermal processes)
  • Dr. Colin D. Joye, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (microfabrication techniques and pioneering work in imaging and communications)
  • Dr. Jennifer L. Miksis-Olds, University of New Hampshire (marine mammal and fish bio-acoustics and animal behavior and communication)
  • Dr. Bozhi Tian, University of Chicago (semiconductor materials synthesis, device applications in photovoltaics, intracellular electrophysiology and tissue engineering)

Abbeel, Di Carlo, Hopkins, Miksis-Olds and Tian are also are past winners of ONR's Young Investigator Program (YIP), a prestigious grant awarded to scientists and engineers with exceptional promise for producing creative and state-of-the-art research. Each YIP recipient receives approximately $170,000 annually over three years for research efforts that appear likely to advance naval technology. ONR's YIP is one of the oldest such programs in the nation.

This year, a total of 105 researchers earned PECASE awards through their work for various government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA and the National Science Foundation. Agencies annually nominate the best and brightest scientists and engineers whose early achievements appear beneficial to keeping the nation on the leading edge of scientific discovery.

The PECASE awards were established in 1996 and are managed by the Executive Office of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. According to the White House website, recipients are chosen based on their pursuit of innovative research as well as their commitment to community service — whether through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Warren Duffie is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.

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