National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers Kathryn L. Beers and Joshua C. Bienfang have been awarded the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Presented at the White House on Nov. 1, 2007, by John H. Marburger III, Science Advisor to the President, PECASE awards are the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. Government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their careers.
Beers creates and studies flexible organic molecules known as polymers, found ubiquitously in the natural world (in the form of biomolecules such as DNA) as well as in industry (in applications ranging from personal care products to electronic displays). Beers has developed elegant new methods for making nanomaterials that were never before possible. Still in the early stages of her career, she has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers that have been cited more than 1,000 times. She has also distinguished herself as a scientific leader, holding multiple positions including Assistant Director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Bienfang is using fundamental theories of physics, combined with the latest telecommunications technology, to develop a form of secret-message transmission known as quantum cryptography. His expertise in laser technology and high-speed electronics has enabled him to shoot particles of light through the air billions of times per second to set several new world records in quantum-cryptography transmission speeds. The technology may be useful someday for highly secure encrypted wireless communications.
As a result of this award the scientists receive additional funding from NIST for up to five years to advance their research.