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Faculty members win major research awards

Three MIT researchers are among the 60 recipients of the 1999 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young professionals at the outset of their independent research careers. Two of the awardees were also among 13 MIT researchers to receive 1999 Faculty Early Career Development awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

For PECASE, eight federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate meritorious young scientists and engineers who will broadly advance the science and technology that will be of the greatest benefit to fulfilling the agencies' missions.

"We honor these outstanding young scientists and engineers for their research contributions, for their promise and for their commitment to broader societal goals," President Clinton said. "They will do much to shape our society and advance our national interests in the 21st century." The researchers received their awards April 12 in a White House ceremony. This is the fourth year the awards have been given.

Awardees receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions. Winners from MIT are:

John M. Chapin, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, for "original contributions to dynamic analysis of parallel, long-lived software systems, and for innovative techniques in the teaching of dynamic analysis skills to undergraduates."

Kenneth R. Czerwinski, the Rasmussen Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, for "developing the fundamental chemistry of the new element rutherfordium by perfecting 'one-atom-at-a-time' chemical procedures on its short-lived atoms."

Feniosky Pe�a-Mora, co-director of the Intelligent Engineering Systems Laboratory and holder of the Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Professorship in civil and environmental engineering, for "creative investigation into the cross-cutting worlds of game theory, contract negotiation, and infrastructure management, and for involving students in an international educational environment."

Professors Chapin and Pe�a-Mora were nominated by the National Science Foundation from among its most meritorious Faculty Early Career Development awardees (see below). Each will receive $500,000 over five years to further their research and educational efforts. Professor Czerwinski was nominated by the Department of Energy.


The 1999 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the NSF went to 350 researchers in amounts from $200,000 to $500,000 over four to five years.

"CAREER awards support exceptionally promising college and university junior faculty who are committed to the integration of research and education," said NSF Director Rita Colwell. "We recognize these faculty members, new in their careers, as most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century."

MIT winners and the titles of their research projects are:

Sandra L. Burkett, MIT affiliate, "Design of Bioceramics for Controlled Protein Adsorption and Biological Activity."

Assistant Professor John M. Chapin, electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), "Virtual Machine-Based Dynamic Analysis."

Associate Professor Patricia Culligan-Hensley, civil and environmental engineering (CEE), "The Use of the Geotechnical Centrifuge for Physical Modelling of Geo-Environmental and Geotechnical Problems."

Assistant Professor William H. Green Jr., chemical engineeering, "Predictive Chemical Kinetics: Reaction Rate Estimation and Validation."

Assistant Professor Charles F. Harvey, CEE, "Revisiting Two Basic Processes in Hydrogeology: Solute Transport in Heterogeneous Formations and Chemical Mixing in Porous Media."

Assistant Professor Victoria Kaspi, physics, "Astrophysics and Radio Pulsars: From the Forefront to the Classroom."

Assistant Professor Leonard McMillan, EECS, "Image-Based Methods and Technologies for Three-Dimensional Computer Graphics."

Associate Professor Feniosky Pe�a-Mora, CEE, "Collaborative Negotiation Methodology for Large-Scale Infrastructure Projects."

Associate Professor Caroline A. Ross, materials science and engineering, "Magnetic Anisotropy in Cobalt Alloy Films Used in Hard Disk Recording Media."

Associate Professor Madhu Sudan, EECS, "Optimization, Probabilistic Checking of Proofs and Error-Correcting Codes."

Assistant Professor Santosh S. Vempala, mathematics, "Geometric Tools for Algorithms."

Associate Professor Paul Viola, EECS, "Nonparametric Multiscale Statistical Models for Natural Signals and Images."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 26, 2000.

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