Earlier this month, the fiscal year 2014 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) were announced. PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.
Twenty of the 102 awardees were nominated by the National Institutes of Health. Among these 20 awardees, seven are scientists performing research in the behavioral and social sciences and/or using scientific processes and procedures developed by the behavioral and social sciences.
Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Physiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. His research seeks to identify the neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol dependence and stress disorders. This research makes considerable use of behavioral paradigms including operant drug self-administration, acoustic startle reflex, tests of anxiety-like behavior and locomotor activity, and behavioral pharmacology.
Catherine Karr, Ph.D. M.D. is Professor of Pediatrics at University of Washington. Her research areas include environmental contaminants and pediatric respiratory health including asthma, health of farmworker children, and global children's environmental health. Her work includes community engagement procedures for addressing farmworker health and global children’s environmental health.
Adriana Lleras-Muney Ph.D. is Professor of Economics at UCLA. Her research examines the relationships between socioecono mic status and health, particularly education and income. Her most recent work investigates whether cash transfers to poor families improve poor children’s education, lifetime incomes and long term health.
Mary Kay Lobo, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland. Her research in striatal circuit genetics and function led to demonstrating divergent roles of two ventral striatal projections on the rewarding effects of cocaine and morphine. Her research has implications not only for drug abuse but also mood and stereotypy disorders.
Eric Morrow, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. His research focuses on normal molecular mechanisms of brain development, and genetic perturbations that influence human cognitive development. This research has implications for the development of autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.
Daniel O’Connor, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research focuses on the neural circuitry of touch perception. His lab studies the neural circuit foundations of sensory perception which provides a framework for understanding how circuit dysfunction contributes to mental and behavioral aspects of neuropsychiatric illness.
Cui Tao, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas. Her research involves ontologies, standard terminologies, semantic web, information extraction and integration as well as applying ontology and semantic web technologies to clinical and translational studies. This work has significant underpinnings in linguistic research and has important implications for the development of social and behavioral research ontologies.
It is gratifying to see so many of these NIH funded investigators who are doing research in or related to behavioral and social sciences recognized for their scientific accomplishments. As future PECASE nominations are sought, OBSSR will continue to work with NIH institutes and centers on identifying and nominating exceptional early career scientists in the behavioral and social sciences.