Two Texas A&M University assistant professors, Dr. David M. Ford in chemical engineering and Dr. Aaron W. Harper in chemistry, are the only Texas researchers this year to receive the highest honor given by the United States government to young research professionals.

Ford and Harper were among 60 young researchers nationally to be named recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at the fourth annual White House ceremony Wednesday. This is the first year Texas A&M researchers have won.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, show the priority the government places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers.

Ford was nominated by Sandia National Laboratories for his work to solve the problem of aging materials in the nation's enduring nuclear stockpile. His research deals with developing materials modeling capabilities and algorithms.

Harper focuses on polymer and materials chemistry for photonic applications. His work involves the design, synthesis, and preparation of materials that respond to, generate, or alter the properties of light.

Eight federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the top young scientists and engineers for PECASE who broadly advance the science and technology to benefit the agencies' missions. The young scientists and engineers receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions.

Ford also received a Department of Energy (DOE) award in Washington for his research on national security issues. He won one of only five 1999 Office of Defense Programs Early Career Scientist and Engineer Awards from the DOE. Harper was named an Army Research Office Young Investigator CAREER winner.

A faculty member since 1997, Ford was a postdoctoral fellow at the computational materials sciences department at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. His professional interests include statistical thermodynamics, molecular simulation, adsorption, transport in microporous materials and diffusion in polymers.

Ford is co-author of more than 13 articles in refereed journals. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Tau Beta Pi engineering honors society.

Ford received his doctoral and master's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, all in chemical engineering.

Harper joined on the chemistry faculty last year. He studies organic and polymer chemistry, as well as organic and polymeric materials for optical and photonic applications.

He was a visiting scientist at the California Institute of Technology in 1998.

Harper earned his doctorate from the University of Southern California and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Contact: Mike L. Downey m-downey@tamu.edu (979)-845-5524.

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