Three University of Minnesota faculty receive highest honor from U.S. government

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Three University of Minnesota Twin Cities faculty are among the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. The award recipients will be honored on Thursday, July 25 at a Washington, D.C. ceremony.

The University of Minnesota faculty honored include:

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Melena Bellin, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist for University of Minnesota Physicians and professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics and Surgery, was nominated for the award by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Her research focuses on how to best treat patients with chronic pancreatitis who need their pancreas removed due to severe abdominal pain. The procedure is unique and only done at a handful of centers across the country, but it can be life-transforming for patients. Bellin’s previous awards include Best Doctors in America (2013), Minneapolis - St. Paul “Top Doctors, Rising Star Edition” (2015-2016), and Minnesota Monthly “Top Doctors” (2014, 2016-2018).

Jalan headshotBharat Jalan, Ph.D., an associate professor and Shell Chair in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, was nominated for the award by the U.S. Department of Defense. His research focuses on various areas of materials science, materials chemistry, and physics, including the synthesis of quantum materials where researchers can manipulate materials at the atomic level. This research provides the fundamental science needed to develop the next generation of electronic devices. Jalan has previously received several awards including the Air Force Office of Science Research Young Investigator Award (2016), International molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) Young Investigator Award (2016), Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Young Investigator (2017), and American Association for Crystal Growth Young Author Award (2017). 

Dominik Schillinger, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota College of Dominik headshotScience and Engineering’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering, was nominated for the award by the National Science Foundation. His research focuses on computational mechanics using novel techniques for analysis of solids, structures and fluids. The main applications driving Schillinger’s work are from biomechanics, engineering mechanics, and structural dynamics. Schillinger’s previous awards include the Institution of Civil Engineers Zienkiewicz Prize and Medal (2014), the International Association of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics Richard-von-Nises Prize (2015), and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2017).

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE with participating departments and agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Education, Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and Veterans Affairs, as well as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

To see the full list of the 2019 PECASE recipients, visit the White House website.

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