Earlier this week, President Obama announced the 2011 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers , the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Six employees from the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology  (NIST) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  (NOAA) were among those honored on Monday.
The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.
The scientists are recognized not only for their innovative research, but also their demonstrated commitment to community service.This year’s recipients from the Department of Commerce include:
Anthony Arguez, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: A research climatologist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., Arguez is being recognized for his “innovations in climate science, statistical methods, and user engagement and for producing the official source of temperature ‘normals’ for the American public.” Updated every 10 years, temperature normals are computed from the most recent three decades of daily temperature readings from a specific location and serve as a 30-year baseline average. Arguez led the team that developed the most recent 1981- 2010 climate normals  and developed innovative scientific methods used in the production of the normals.
Ian Coddington, National Institute of Standards and Technology: A physicist in the Physical Measurement Laboratory, Coddington is being recognized for developing rapid, low-cost, spectroscopic measurement tools based on optical fibers and frequency combs that enable accurate detection of airborne chemicals and measurement of absolute distance over kilometers with nanometer precision, and for contributions to early child development and science enrichment programs in his community.
Frank W. DelRio, National Institute of Standards and Technology: A mechanical engineer in the Material Measurement Laboratory, DelRio is being recognized for pioneering research in measuring the mechanical properties of microelectronic and micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS), and for volunteer work for local science fairs and for the Idaho Diabetes Youth Program.
Jayne Billmayer Morrow, National Institute of Standards and Technology: An environmental engineer in the Material Measurement Laboratory, Billmayer Morrow is being honored for pioneering research on the properties of microbial systems, in particular the characterization of bacteria-surface interactions and the fate and transport of microbial pathogens in environmental matrices, and for commitment to preparing the next generation of young scientists through the NIST Summer Undergraduate Internship Program.
Kyle S. Van Houtan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: A research ecologist and leader of the Marine Turtle Assessment Program in Honolulu, Van Houtan is being recognized “for discovery of the long-term influence of climate to sea turtle populations and for working with academia to build indigenous scientific capacity in the Pacific Islands.” He made innovative discoveries about how changes in the Earth’s ocean climate influence sea turtle populations. Van Houtan’s work provides a clearer understanding of the past few decades of population trends and allows future population predictions based on climate and climatic change.
Rebecca Washenfelder, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: An is an atmospheric chemist with CIRES, a partnership between NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder, Washenfelder is being recognized for her “pioneering work in developing and applying new measurement techniques to study atmospheric chemistry related to climate and air quality and for commitment to science education and outreach.” She developed a new instrument that uses light in studies of the sources and composition of tiny airborne particles that affect both climate and air quality. Such particles, also known as aerosols, are an important and poorly understood component of the atmosphere.