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President Obama honors Miami's Carole Dabney-Smith


Carole Dabney-Smith
Carole Dabney-Smith, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Miami University, is among 94 researchers named by President Barack Obama to receive the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers who are in the early stages of their independent research careers.

“It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers — careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the nation,” President Obama said. “That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens.”

Dabney-Smith is being recognized for her “imaginative research on the unique pathway that transports folded and assembled proteins across lipid membranes in plants to form the energy-harvesting complexes of photosynthesis and for excellent mentorship of developing scientists.”

The winning scientists are supported by 16 federal departments and agencies: Dabney-Smith is one of 13 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers to receive the PECASE award. The DOE awardees are recognized for their research efforts in a variety of fields — from research to help the country achieve energy independence and enhance national security to explorations of the elementary particles of the universe. DOE nominated the awardees and DOE’s Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration fund their work.

In addition to a citation and a plaque, each PECASE winner will continue to receive DOE funding for up to five years to advance his or her research. The scientists and engineers will receive their awards on Friday, Oct. 14, at a White House ceremony.

“Science and technology are the core of our mission at DOE,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “These young scientists are using their talents to help our nation build a brighter future, so I congratulate them on their accomplishments and I look forward to their future achievements.”

Dabney-Smith, who joined Miami in 2008, received a $750,000 grant from the DOE’s Early Career Research Program in 2010 for her work in the assembly of photosynthesis complexes and its impact on the future of biofuel production.

She “has attracted a talented group of graduate students and five undergraduates to her research laboratory,” said Chris Makaroff, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “She is an excellent mentor who works side by side with her students in the lab helping them develop into independent scientists, as evidenced by the fact that each of her students is a co-author on manuscripts that are either submitted or in preparation.”

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.


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