Engineering News - George R. Brown School of Engineering

Koushanfar wins presidential early career award

Farinaz Koushanfar, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, is among 85 researchers to receive Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their careers.

Koushanfar and Emilia Morosan, a Rice assistant professor of physics and astronomy and of chemistry who also won the honor, traveled to Washington, D.C., for an award ceremony on Dec. 13.

farinaz10_01President Bill Clinton established the awards in 1996 to honor those who pursue innovative research and are committed to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach. The winners are nominated by 10 federal departments and agencies and are expected to tackle grand challenges and contribute to the American economy. Research grants for up to five years often accompany the awards.

“Science and technology have long been at the core of America's economic strength and global leadership,” Obama said. “I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.” Koushanfar has earned three previous awards for young faculty: a CAREER Award and a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency Young Faculty Award, both in 2007, and an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award in 2009.

She was nominated by the Navy for the presidential honor and expects her grant will contribute to ongoing work that focuses on networking for adaptive and energy-efficient radio communications.

“We’re going to exploit the PECASE grant to focus more on security aspects of low-power and energy-efficient computing and communicating embedded systems,” Koushanfar said. “There is a growing trend in embedding intelligent computation and computation in the physical world, from our schools, homes and shops, to cars and airplanes, and to weapons in the battlefield. These pervasive embedded systems need to be energy-efficient, adaptive and secure.”

—Mike Williams, Rice Public Affairs