PECASE Award winners Sarah Bergbreiter (left) and Derek Paley (right).

PECASE Award winners Sarah Bergbreiter (left) and Derek Paley (right).


President Obama has named two University of Maryland (UMD) Clark School of Engineering faculty members as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Sarah Bergbreiter and Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Derek Paley, both of whom hold joint appointments with UMD's Institute for Systems Research, were selected for the PECASE award, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Obama said in a White House press release. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

Bergbrieter, whose PECASE nomination was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, received her B.S.E. degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 1999. After a short introduction to the challenges of sensor networks at a small startup company, she received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004 and 2007 with a focus on microrobotics. Her research aims to bridge work in systems and control with research in microsystems and fabrication.

She has received the DARPA Young Faculty Award and the NSF CAREER Award for her research on engineering robotic systems down to sub-millimeter size scales, and she was recently selected by the robotics website Robohub as one of the top "25 women in robotics you need to know about."

Paley, whose PECASE nomination was sponsored by the Department of Defense, is the founding director of the Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory and a member of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, the Maryland Robotics Center, the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, and the Applied Mathematics and Statistics, and Scientific Computation Program. Paley received the B.S. degree in Applied Physics from Yale University in 1997 and the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 2007. He has received the National Science Foundation CAREER award and is co-author of Engineering Dynamics: A Comprehensive Introduction (Princeton University Press, 2011). Paley is an Associate Fellow of AIAA and a Senior Member of IEEE.

Paley's research interests are in the area of dynamics and control, including cooperative control of autonomous vehicles, adaptive sampling with mobile networks, and spatial modeling of biological groups. His research is based on support by the U.S. Army, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the National Science Foundation.

Paley began working on ONR-funded projects in unmanned systems even before he attended graduate school. With ONR’s support, he now is leading a team of biologists and engineers to construct a system for undersea vehicles inspired by sensory organs used by fish to detect movements and vibrations in water. This artificial lateral line will allow vehicles to navigate autonomously in areas where traditional sensors such as sonar are unavailable.

"I am very proud of both faculty members and delighted to see this outstanding recognition of their research and educational activities," said Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor Darryll Pines.

The PECASE awards, established by President 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.

For more information on Sarah Bergbreiter and her research, visit her faculty webpage.

For more information on Derek Paley and his research, visit his faculty webpage.

Also see: Five Clark School Faculty Earn NSF CAREER Awards

December 23, 2013

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