Northwestern professors honored with Presidential Early Career Awards

Benjamin Din, Digital Projects Editor

Two Northwestern professors were awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

Chemistry Prof. Elad Harel and McCormick Prof. James Rondinelli (McCormick ’06) are among a group of 105 researchers invited to accept their awards at the White House from the president in the spring.

Rondinelli’s research focus is on the manipulation of materials at their fundamental electronic level. Through his research, he is able to predict how yet-to-be-synthesized materials will behave, which helps facilitate the discovery of new chemically and structurally complex compounds.

“It’s a great honor to receive such recognition at this stage of my scientific career, where I’ve focused on creating new knowledge and training a new generation of scientists and engineers to solve 21st-century problems,” Rondinelli said in a news release.

Harel’s interdisciplinary research is centered on developing optical techniques to examine chemical systems. His proposed research focuses on ways to measure energy flow at the nanoscale, which would help the Department of Defense build devices to convert energy sources, such as sunlight, to be useful in unpredictable environments.

“Without this type of support, we could not take the bold risks necessary to make breakthroughs in science,” Harel said in the release.

Harel and Rondinelli were nominated for the award by the Department of Defense, which funds their research.

The award is the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow on early-stage researchers, according to the release.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” Obama said in the release. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

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