NEWS | Aug. 5, 2019

Dr. Adam D. Dunkelberger Awarded Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

By Daniel Parry, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump awarded U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Research Chemist, Dr. Adam Dunkelberger, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C., July 25.

The PECASE award is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers who are beginning their research careers. The award recognizes recipients' potential to advance the frontiers of scientific knowledge and their commitment to community service, as demonstrated through professional leadership, education or community outreach.

Dunkelberger received the award for the discovery of tunable energy relaxation in vibration-cavity polaritons; for demonstrating ultrafast modulation of surface-phonon polariton resonances; and for mentoring and supporting postdoctoral associates and students.

“It's humbling and a huge honor to receive the PECASE,” said Dunkelberger. “Above all, receiving this award makes me feel fortunate and incredibly thankful for the mentors and collaborators I've had along the way. Cutting-edge science is increasingly multidisciplinary, and everything I've been able to accomplish in the lab has depended on a large group of excellent coworkers.”

Dunkelberger and a team of researchers were able to demonstrate surprising new phenomena that occur when infrared light is confined in optical devices so that it strongly interacts with nearby molecules. They can use this confined light to detect molecules with high sensitivity, change how they dissipate their energy, and, potentially, how they react chemically.

Established in 1996, the PECASE acknowledges the contributions scientists and engineers have made to the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE with participating departments and agencies.