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Two NIST Researchers Honored with Flemming Awards

From NIST Tech Beat: June 9, 2014

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Contact: Michael Baum

Two researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are among 12 federal employees being honored today* as recipients of the 2013 Arthur S. Flemming Awards.

The Flemming Awards were established in 1948 by the Washington, D.C., Downtown Jaycees in honor of Arthur Flemming's commitment to public service throughout the seven decades of his distinguished career. The awards recognize exceptional young federal employees in five categories: leadership and management; legal achievement; social science, clinical trials and translational research; applied science and engineering; and basic science.

The two NIST researchers honored this year, with their award citations, are:

Thomas Perkins
Physicist Thomas Perkins is one of two NIST winners of the 2013 Arthur S. Flemming Awards.
Credit: NIST
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Dr. Thomas T. Perkins, of NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory:
For creating unprecedented new ways, as a physicist, to precisely measure and manipulate the key molecules of life (DNA, RNA, proteins) under real world biological conditions for the first time, through innovative, multidisciplinary programs combining atomic force microscopy (AFM), laser physics, molecular biology, and advanced electronics. Dr. Perkins' leadership has led to the invention of new AFM systems 100 times more stable and sensitive than the previous world's best. He achieved this remarkable improvement in the wet, warm environment needed to measure the molecules of life under natural conditions, rather than in a vacuum near absolute zero required by previous AFMs. Dr. Perkins' work has revealed new details about the structure and function of DNA, RNA, and proteins in natural environments for the first time, providing knowledge to engineer more effective medical diagnostics and treatments. He leads partnerships with industry to transfer advanced AFM and related technologies to develop new research and measurement tools for molecular biology. Mindful of the future, he mentors and trains the next generation of young scientists to pioneer new research and measurement technologies working in industry, universities, and national laboratories.

Dr. Emanuel H. Knill, of NIST's Information Technology Laboratory
For his remarkable accomplishments as a NIST Fellow in the Applied and Computational Mathematics Division of the Information Technology Laboratory. Dr. Emanuel Knill is one of the world's leading theorists in the field of quantum information science and engineering. An emerging discipline at the intersection of physics and computer science, quantum information is likely to revolutionize science and technology in the same way that lasers, electronics, and computers did in the 20th century. Dr. Knill has developed some of the essential mathematical foundations for exploring the unique rules of quantum mechanics which govern atomic-scale systems to enable the development of novel computing devices with phenomenal increases in information storage and processing capability. His groundbreaking research in the theory of quantum optics, quantum error correction, quantum state tomography, quantum computer benchmarking, and quantum algorithms is providing essential guidance to the experimental physics community as it works to create a new age of quantum engineering.

The Arthur S. Flemming Awards are administered by The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University. The full list of the 2013 Flemming award winners is at

*Originally published on June 9, 2014.