Auburn University researcher named one of nation’s top early career scientists and engineers

AUBURN – Virginia Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, is among 85 researchers named by President Barack Obama to receive the prestigious Presidential Early Career for Scientists and Engineers Award, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on early-career researchers.

Davis joins 18 other National Science Foundation recipients of the 2010 PECASE Award who will receive the award later this year at a White House ceremony.

Awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Davis will be recognized for innovative research to advance the understanding of nanomaterials as well as their dispersion, microstructure, processing and properties on a macro scale. She was also honored for engaging in outreach activities involving K-12 students from underrepresented groups.

In her research, Davis explores how ultra-small materials, known as “nanomaterials,” can be assembled into newer, more advanced materials, including macroelectronic devices, sensors, electro-optical devices and antimicrobial coatings that could prevent diseases from spreading on contaminated surfaces.

“We are so pleased that Dr. Davis has received this national award in recognition of the importance of her scientific research in nanotechnology and also her outreach work to future scientists and engineers,” said Auburn University Provost Mary Ellen Mazey.

Christopher Roberts, department chair for Chemical Engineering at Auburn University, said, “We’re obviously very proud of Virginia for this achievement and what it represents in terms of her potential and stature as a scientist and an engineer, but also because it brings tremendous recognition to her efforts to encourage students to explore science and engineering careers.”

“Science and technology have long been at the core of America’s economic strength and global leadership,” President Obama said in announcing the awards. “I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.”

National Science Foundation PECASE awardees come from universities around the country and excel in research in a variety of scientific disciplines including biological sciences, computer and information science and engineering, education and human resources, engineering, geosciences, mathematical and physical sciences and social, behavioral and economic sciences.

The PECASE Awards were established by President Bill Clinton in 1996, and are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Winning scientists and engineers receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions.

For a link to a video of Davis, go to

Contact: Sally Credille, (334) 844-3447 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (