Next Generation of Scientists

Earlier today I had the honor of meeting four individuals who are helping NASA turn the dreams of today into the reality of tomorrow. They are winners of the 2010 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Today we honored the four NASA winners in a ceremony at agency headquarters. Chief Scientist, Waleed Abdalati, Acting Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Chuck Gay, and others joined me to recognize the award-winning work of Drs. Jonathan Cirtain, Ian Howat, Gregory Howes, and Benjamin Mazin. We were fortunate to have them and their families here with us today. Tomorrow they will be recognized in a ceremony at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History along with the other 90 recipients of this year’s PECASE awards.

From the outer edges of our solar system to the dynamic surface of the Earth, these scientists are revolutionizing what we know about the world around us. Their leadership in astrophysics, heliophysics and Earth science will chart our path forward as we explore further into space.

I am particularly proud of the fact that the awardees were selected not only for their innovative research, but also for their commitment to community service through scientific leadership, public education and community outreach. By devoting their time to mentoring and informing the world about the important science we do here at NASA, these individuals are making an impact that will be felt for years to come.

The Presidential early career awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation’s goals, contribute to the American economy, and tackle the grand challenges we face today and will face in the future. That’s what we do here at NASA. We are in the future business. Our science missions on the International Space Station are preparing the next generation of astronauts to live and work even deeper in space. Our science instruments and data monitoring earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis are saving lives here on earth. And our investment in knowledge is not only paving the way to a better tomorrow, it is generating jobs and a stronger economy here and now today.

These talented scientists are the living embodiment of NASA’s enduring commitment to scientific innovation. It is inspiring to see such important work at this early stage in their careers. I look forward to seeing more great achievements from them in the very near future.