Published: Jan. 7, 2014

Ana Maria Rey, a theoretical physicist at JILA, a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has been honored by the White House with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. 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 statement. “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.”

Rey, who was among 102 recipients of the award, was chosen “for her pioneering research on developing fundamental understanding and control of novel quantum systems and finding applications for a wide range of scientific fields,” according to the White House.

In 2013, Rey also was named a winner of the MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as the “genius grant,” for her research at JILA, where she works with ultracold atoms and molecules that are trapped in an “optical lattice,” a series of shallow wells constructed of laser light.

PECASE recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veteran Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.

The departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s pre-eminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.

The 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.

Ana Maria Rey, 303-492-7801
Laura Snider, CU media relations, 303-735-0528

Ana Maria Rey, a theoretical physicist and a fellow of JILA, a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)