President Barack Obama announced yesterday that Harvard Graduate School of Education Associate Professor Nonie Lesaux is a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals beginning their independent research careers. Winners receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions. Of the 100 recipients this year, only two were among those nominated by the Department of Education.
"These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country," said Obama. "With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world."
"I am deeply honored and humbled to be recognized at this level and among such distinguished leaders," said Lesaux. "As a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, I pledge to continue my steadfast commitment to the science of children's development and well-being."
Lesaux's research focuses on the reading development and the health and well-being of children who are at risk for learning difficulties, including children from language-minority and low socioeconomic backgrounds, and children with language impairments. Currently, she is the principal investigator on multiple research projects that look at language diversity and literacy development in urban schools and two studies examining reading comprehension difficulty for Spanish speakers reading in English.
"Nonie Lesaux is an outstanding young scholar, working on a critical education issue--promoting academic achievement in English language learners," said Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Kathleen McCartney. "Her work is grounded in the realities of urban school districts and is already changing teaching and policy throughout the United States. Nonie's selection for this prestigious award is well deserved."
The Presidential Early Career Awards, established by President Bill Clinton in February 1996, embody the high priority the administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nation's goals and contribute to all sectors of the economy. The nine federal departments and agencies annually nominate the most meritorious young researchers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for strengthening America's leadership in science and technology, and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions. 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 are the two criteria for selecting award recipients.