University of Delaware
William Tisdale

Alumni achievements

Chemical engineering graduates Tisdale, O'Malley win PECASE awards


12:50 p.m., Feb. 24, 2016--Two alumni of the University of Delaware Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are among an elite group of researchers to receive Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. 

William Tisdale, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 2005, and Michelle O’Malley, who received her doctorate in 2009, will receive their awards along with 103 other winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., this spring.

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President Barack Obama recently presented the National Medal of Science to University of Delaware alumnus Rakesh Jain.

Warren Award

Rosalind Johnson, assistant dean for student success in the NUCLEUS Program in UD's College of Arts and Sciences, was presented the John Warren Excellence in Leadership and Service Award during a May 26 ceremony.

In announcing the awards on Feb. 18, President Barack Obama said, “These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness. We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

Tisdale, whose award includes research funding from the Department of Energy, is the Charles and Hilda Roddey Career Development Professor in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the MIT faculty in 2012 and received a Department of Energy Early Career Award in 2013. 

Tisdale also was the recipient of MIT’s student-nominated 2014 Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Tisdale’s research focuses broadly on understanding and controlling the movement of energy in nanostructured materials. 

O’Malley is now an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where her lab engineers protein synthesis and manipulates cellular behavior for biomedical and environmental applications. She received a 2016 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, and in 2015 she was named one of 35 Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review

In May, O’Malley will deliver the Allan P. Colburn Memorial Lecture at UD, which recognizes young faculty who exemplify Colburn’s scholarly abilities. 

Her PECASE award is funded through the Department of Energy.

Past PECASE recipients at UD include Anne Robinson, chemical engineering (2000); Javier Garcia-Frias, electrical engineering (2002); Thomas H. Epps, III, chemical engineering (2010); and Matthew Oliver, School of Marine Science and Policy (2011). A number of other UD alumni have won the award, as well.

About the awards

The Presidential Early Career Awards highlight the key role that the administration places in encouraging and accelerating American innovation to grow the economy and tackle the nation’s greatest challenges. 

This year’s recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and the Intelligence Community. 

These departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.

The awards, established by President Bill 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.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photo of William Tisdale by Denis Paiste/MIT Materials Processing Center

Photo of Michelle O’Malley by Sonia Fernandez/University of California, Santa Barbara

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