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Jacobsen, Kibbe Honored at the White House Jan. 13

Honor is highest given by U.S. government to outstanding young scientists and engineers

January 15, 2010 | by Megan Fellman
Melina Kibbe and Steven Jacobsen were honored with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers Jan. 13.
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Two Northwestern University faculty members were honored at the White House Jan. 13 as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

PECASE is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are in the early stages of their independent research careers.

The recipients are Steven D. Jacobsen, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Melina Kibbe, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine, vascular surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and co-chief of the vascular surgery service and director of the Vascular Laboratory at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

PECASE awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach. There are 100 recipients nationwide each year.

Jacobsen was recognized for his innovative research on the critical role of water on the physical properties of the Earth's deep interior and for prioritizing science education at all levels, especially through efforts to increase minority student representation in advanced science and mathematics courses in Evanston public schools.

An experimental scientist, Jacobsen conducts high-pressure laboratory experiments on Earth and planetary materials at both Northwestern and the Advanced Photon Source of Argonne National Laboratory. His research in Earth and materials science applies to global geophysics and geochemistry, high-pressure physics and chemistry, and properties of superhard materials targeted for future societal applications. Jacobsen's research suggests that a layer deep in the Earth, 250 to 400 miles below the surface, might contain the majority of the planet's water and that the layer acts, over geologic timescales, to balance the amount of liquid water on the Earth's surface.

Kibbe, a member of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center, was recognized for her innovative research in the field of nitric oxide vascular biology and the development of novel translational therapies for patients with vascular disease.

Her research explores how to extend the effectiveness of vascular procedures such as balloon angioplasty and stenting, bypass grafting and other vascular interventions with limited durability. Kibbe's focus is to further the understanding of nitric oxide vascular biology in order to develop nitric oxide-based therapies to improve patient care.

Nine federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate young scientists and engineers whose work is of greatest benefit to the nominating agency's mission. Jacobsen was nominated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his 2008 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, which includes research support for five years. Kibbe, who was nominated for the award by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will receive funding from the department for five years as part of this award.

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