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Sara C. Billey, assistant professor of mathematics, and Georgia Perakis, a Sloan assistant professor of operations research, have received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The National Science Foundation (NSF) selects its PECASE nominees from among its most meritorious CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) awardees.
Professor Perakis investigates the theory and practice of optimization and equilibrium problems. She is recognized for "outstanding research on the development of a theory for understanding the nature of traffic equilibria and for her commitment to undergraduate and graduate education."
Professor Billey's research interests are in combinatorics, algebra, Lie theory, algebraic geometry and probability. She is being honored for "outstanding research on the combinatorial structures of Schubert varieties, and for innovative ideas in exploring the changing roles of computers in mathematics and education."
The PECASE award is the highest honor bestowed by the US government on outstanding scientists and engineers who are in the early stages of establishing their independent research careers. Since the White House established the award in 1996, 100 NSF-supported faculty members have received this presidential honor in such diverse fields as biophysics, mathematical modeling, transportation engineering and microeconomics.
The CAREER program offers the NSF's most prestigious awards for new faculty. The program recognizes and supports the early career development activities of those faculty members who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.
According to the NSF, CAREER awardees are "selected on the basis of creative, integrative, and effective research and education career development plans that build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education." CAREER awards range from $200,000 to $500,000 for a period of four to five years.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 1, 2000.