ARLINGTON, Va.—Focusing on undersea vehicles that have fish-like sensations, advanced ship design and more, four scientists sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on Dec. 23 learned they will receive the nation's highest honor for young scientists and engineers.
The researchers have been selected for Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and will be honored at a ceremony at the White House early this year.
The president's recognition of these individuals reinforces ONR's mission to bring new and improved capabilities to warfighters by supporting ideas from the best and brightest minds in the country, said Dr. Walter F. Jones, ONR's executive director.
"ONR identifies and encourages young talent by staying at the forefront of the most groundbreaking research across a variety of fields," Jones said. "Our work with these up-and-coming researchers ultimately gives our Sailors and Marines the advantage they need to operate in any environment."
The 2013 honorees funded by ONR include: Dr. Kristen Grauman, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Mona Jarrahi, University of Michigan; Dr. Derek A. Paley, University of Maryland; and Dr. Yongjie Zhang, Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Jeremy Robinson also received the PECASE for his work at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
"I hope this recognition inspires other young researchers to continue pursuing new research breakthroughs and discoveries," said Zhang, whose work in geometric modeling could lead to great advances in ship design and analysis.
Paley began working on ONR-funded projects in unmanned systems even before he attended graduate school. With ONR's support, he now is leading a team of biologists and engineers to construct a system for undersea vehicles inspired by sensory organs used by fish to detect movements and vibrations in water. This could allow vehicles to navigate autonomously in areas where traditional sensors such as sonar are unavailable.
Honored for her work at the University of Michigan, Jarrahi and her research team at the University of California, Los Angeles, continue to investigate novel materials and devices that use super-fast frequencies to help improve medical imaging, chemical sensing, space exploration, security screening and more.
Grauman's work focuses on collaboration between humans and machines to ensure image and video data is analyzed and exploited to the fullest extent. Her research may give warfighters the highest level of situational awareness and could have an impact on promising technologies such as first-person imagery from wearable cameras, perceptive autonomous robots and more.
Robinson, who joined NRL in 2007 as a post-doctoral researcher and became a full-time employee in 2008, studies graphene, a carbon nanomaterial. He is looking at how it can be used to detect chemicals and how its electronic and mechanical properties can be used for nanoelectronic and radio frequency communication applications.
The PECASE program was established in 1996 and is 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, state-of-the-art research, as well as their commitment to community service.
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.
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