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Georgia Tech Faculty Among Presidential Science and Technology Award Recipients

Three Georgia Institute of Technology faculty members have been named recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

The award is presented by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, along with participating departments and agencies. It is “the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology,” according to the White House.

The following Georgia Tech faculty members received the award:

Dhruv Batra is an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing. Prior to Georgia Tech, he was an assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech and a research assistant professor at Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago. Batra earned a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University.

Batra’s research focuses on making artificial intelligence (AI) systems more transparent, explainable, and trustworthy. Specifically, his work addresses a fundamental challenge in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems – their “black-box” nature, the consequent difficulty humans face in identifying why or how AI systems fail, and how to improve upon those technologies. 

Mark Davenport is an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was previously a National Science Foundation (NSF) mathematical sciences postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Statistics at Stanford University and a visitor with the Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie. He received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering, all from Rice University.

Davenport is a recipient of the NSF Career award, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator award, and a Sloan Research Fellowship. His primary area of research concerns the fundamental role that low-dimensional models and optimization play in signal processing, statistical inference, and machine learning.

Matthew McDowell is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering. Prior to Georgia Tech, he was a postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. McDowell received his doctorate from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. He was recently awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship.

McDowell’s research group focuses on understanding how materials for energy and electronic devices change and transform during operation and how these transformations impact properties. The fundamental scientific advances made by the group guide the engineering of materials for breakthrough new devices. Current projects in the group are focused on electrode materials for alkali ion batteries, materials for solid-state batteries, interfaces in chalcogenide materials for electronics and catalysis, and new methods for creating nanostructured metals.

The PECASE award, established in 1996, acknowledges the contributions scientists and engineers have made in the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and to community service, according to the White House.  

“This award reaffirms Georgia Tech’s commitment to hiring and retaining the very best and brightest minds in the world to educate the very best students in the world,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs and K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. “The PECASE distinction is a true testament to the quality of these extraordinary individuals, and we are thrilled to celebrate them, their work, and their exciting research.”

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