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Early-career scientist gets White House honor

| 09 July 2009

Dr. Sanjay Kumar, a bioengineer from the University of California, Berkeley, is one of 100 researchers to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the White House announced today (Thursday, July 9).

Sanjay KumarDr. Sanjay Kumar (Peg Skorpinski photo)
The award is considered the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists in the early stages of their careers.

"These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country," President Obama said in a statement. "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."

Kumar, UC Berkeley assistant professor of bioengineering and a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, studies cellular mechanics and biomaterials, including how a cell's cytoskeleton governs its structure and senses. Of particular focus in the lab is how cells process mechanical forces in the context of human health and disease.

Every year nine federal departments and agencies nominate recipients for the prestigious award. They choose researchers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for strengthening America's leadership in science and technology and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions. Kumar was nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The awards, established by President Clinton in February 1996, are coordinated by the White House 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.

The recipient scientists and engineers will receive their awards in the fall at a White House ceremony.