Saturday, August 4, 2012

Congrats to the PECASE Recipients Announced by President Obama, Including Our UMass Amherst Colleague

I love math, science, and engineering, as well as economics, and especially how they can be integrated to formulate and solve problems facing our society.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the recently announced, by President Obama, recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, known as the PECASE Awards. There are 96 of them this year and they were honored by the President in a special ceremony.

A UMass Amherst colleague, in polymer science, is one of the recipients of this award, which provides $50,000 for each of 5 years. His name is Dr. Alejandro Briseno, and he is a polymer scientist.  A UMass PhD in kinesiology, Dr. Maria Urso, is also among ths year's PECASE awardees.

According to a wonderful article on, Dr. Briseno hopes that his research, one day, will not only lead to more efficient solar panels and LCD display screens, but that, also,  it will lead to a new crop of young Latino scientists, especially ones growing up now in tough neighborhoods like his own Baldwin Park section of Los Angeles.

The challenges that Dr. Briseno has had to overcome are vividly described in the article:  “It’s difficult for someone to make it from Baldwin Park,” he said last week after returning from the White House where he was honored by President Barack Obama as an outstanding early-career scientist. “It’s a place that in the 70s and 80s had a lot of gangs. I represent Baldwin Park through my success. I don’t forget where I came from.”

He was a freshman in college when his father was murdered, shot six times in the head. Police never identified the killer.

“I faced some challenges after that for the next six years of my life. I made a decision to pursue science,” he said.

Beautifully said and truly inspirational.

 Time to stop dumbing down America and to create opportunities for all those who strive to achieve in the STEM fields.

Congrats to all the PECASE recipients!