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Two CSE engineering faculty receive highest honor from U.S. government

Award recognizes early career research

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (07/24/2019)— Two University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering faculty are among the recipients of the 2019 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). They are Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Associate Professor and Shell Chair Bharat Jalan and Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering Assistant Professor Dominik Schillinger.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology. Jalan and Schillinger will be honored on Thursday, July 25 at a Washington, D.C. ceremony.

Associate Professor Bharat Jalan was nominated for the award by the U.S. Department of Defense. His research focuses on various areas of materials science, materials chemistry, and physics including the synthesis of quantum materials where researchers can manipulate materials at the atomic level. This research provides the fundamental science needed to develop the next generation of electronic devices. Jalan has previously received several awards including the Air Force Office of Science Research Young Investigator Award (2016), International Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) Young Investigator Award (2016), Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Young Investigator (2017), and American Association for Crystal Growth Young Author Award (2017).

“I am truly honored to receive such recognition of our research contributions,” Jalan said. “The award is particularly rewarding because it recognizes the importance of fundamental material synthesis science research to the nation’s priorities.”

Assistant Professor Dominik Schillinger was nominated for the award by the National Science Foundation. His research focuses on computational mechanics using novel techniques for analysis of solids, structures and fluids. The main applications driving Schillinger’s work are from biomechanics, engineering mechanics, and structural dynamics. Schillinger has previously received several awards including the ICE Zienkiewicz Prize and Medal (2014), the GAMM Richard-von-Nises Prize (2015), and an NSF CAREER Award (2017).

“I am very happy about the award, but I also feel very grateful to my department, the college, and the entire University of Minnesota that have provided such a great environment for me to grow and succeed over the last few years,” Schillinger said. “I cannot image a better place for starting an academic career as a faculty.”

A physician in the University’s Medical School was also awarded a PECASE this year.

Melena Bellin, a pediatric endocrinologist for University of Minnesota Physicians and Professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics and Surgery was nominated for the award by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Her research focuses on how to best treat patients with chronic pancreatitis who need their pancreas removed due to severe abdominal pain. The procedure is unique and only done at a handful of centers across the country, but it can be life-transforming for patients. Bellin’s previous awards include Best Doctors in America (2013), Minneapolis - St. Paul “Top Doctors, Rising Star Edition” (2015-2016), and Minnesota Monthly “Top Doctors” (2014, 2016-2018). 

In addition, Chuan Xue, who is currently at The Ohio State University but will be joining the University of Minnesota School of Mathematics faculty in fall 2020, received a PECASE. She was nominated by the National Science Foundation for her research on new mathematical models and methods to address fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology, such as how cells communicate, self-organize and coordinate with each other to maintain health and prevent diseases.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE with participating departments and agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Education, Health and Human Services: National Institutes of Health, and Veterans Affairs, as well as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

To see the full list of the 2019 PECASE recipients, visit the White House website.

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