Elad HarelJames Rondinelli

Elad Harel, left, and James Rondinelli will be celebrated at the White House this spring

Two Northwestern University professors -- chemist Elad Harel and materials scientist and engineer James Rondinelli -- have been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). President Barack Obama announced the recipients of the prestigious honor yesterday (Feb. 18).


The 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. A total of 105 researchers across the country are being honored.

Harel is being recognized for his pioneering work on the development of powerful optical techniques to probe the structure and dynamics of complex chemical systems at the extremes of time, space and energy in order to tackle some of the most pressing and challenging problems in chemical physics as well as for his commitment to cross-disciplinary research and education, his unwavering support of undergraduate and graduate students and his overall leadership in the scientific community.

Rondinelli is being recognized for his seminal research contributions in computational condensed matter physics and novel materials design approaches. He has transformed the scientific community’s approach to designing materials using broken inversion symmetry at interfaces and provided the first-ever methodology for predicting the relationship between strain and octahedral rotations in complex oxides, paving the way for the design of many-body quantum properties in ways previously not considered possible.

Harel and Rondinelli will be invited to the White House this spring to meet President Obama and attend an awards ceremony.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” President Obama said. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

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