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Beginning scientists receive presidential awards
Date:11/1/2007

Twenty young scientists from among those taking part in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) have received an additional distinction as winners of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for the 2006 competition.

The PECASE program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. This Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. In addition to NSF's winners, there are 38 scientists nominated by other government agencies.

By receiving awards through the CAREER program, the PECASE winners had already demonstrated their success in integrating research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.

"These scientists and engineers have not only brought transformational ideas to their fields of study, they have also enriched the educational environment, especially in their roles as mentors," said Kathie L. Olsen, NSF's deputy director.

Research and mentoring are closely associated for Ahna Skop, assistant professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Skop was recognized for innovative research defining the mechanisms required for cytokinesis in animal cells, and for identifying molecular links between the ways in which animal and plant cells divide. For more than a century, biologists had considered a cellular structure called the midbody to be nothing more than "cellular garbage."

"So I decided to go garbage picking, and it turned out to be very fruitful," says Skop. Working with the model invertebrate organism, C. elegans, then mammalian subjects, Skop found about 100 new proteins required for cell division. Her discovery has implications for diseases where cells fail to divide normally, including cancer, and
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Contact: Maria Zacharias
mzachari@nsf.gov
703-292-8454
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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