Young African Americans Who Are Helping to End the Racial Stereotype That Blacks Are Not Capable of High-Level Scientific Research

Barack Obama has announced the 100 winners of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This year it appears that seven of the 100 winners are African Americans.

Winners are selected based on two criteria: pursuit of innovative research on the frontiers of science or technology and a dedication to community service. Grant awards are for five years and they may be valued as high as $1 million. Several federal departments and agencies including the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health nominate scholars for these awards.

Here are the seven young black scientists honored for their achievements and whose research will be supported by government agencies over the next five years. There are two women in the group. Both are graduates of Spelman College.

• Monica F. Cox is an assistant professor of engineering education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Professor Cox’s research focuses on understanding how best to prepare graduate engineering students for the transition to careers once they have completed their degrees.

• John O. Dabiri is an assistant professor of aeronautics and bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology. In recent years his research has centered on the movement of jellyfish and fluid dynamics. His investigation in bio-inspired propulsion recently earned him an award from the Office of Naval Research.

• Joel L. Dawson is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Dawson’s research centers on circuits for communications systems and medical applications.

• Thomas H. Epps III is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware. His research is concerned with designing novel nanostructured materials and ion-conducting membranes for use in clean energy development.

• Roland G. Fryer Jr. is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University. In 2008, at the age of 30, Dr. Fryer won tenure at Harvard. He is the youngest African American to win tenure at Harvard.  Professor Fryer is also a research associate at the National Bureau for Economic Research.

• Lynford L. Goddard is an assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois. His primary research involves building high-speed chip-scale monolithic photonic systems. He currently teaches courses in electromagnetic fields and on principles of experimental research.

• Adrienne D. Stiff-Roberts is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. Her research involves the design, fabrication, and characterization of opto-electronic/photonic devices, particularly those in the infrared spectrum. She also does research on multifunctional sensors featuring hybrid nanomaterials.