Chemistry of Life Processes Institute faculty member T. David Harris, Assistant Professor of Chemistry in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). President Barack Obama announced the recipients of the prestigious honor early January 2017.

The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. The White House, following recommendations from participating federal agencies, confers the awards. A total of 102 researchers across the country are being honored.

“I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work,” President Obama said. “These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.”

Nominated by the Department of Defense, Harris received his PECASE for his outstanding research contributions to the areas of chemical synthesis, molecular magnetism and materials design and for his pioneering proposed work that bridges synthetic molecular chemistry, reactivity and porous materials.

“Receiving this recognition is a tremendous honor for my research group, and the funding associated with the award will greatly aid us in our efforts to make breakthrough scientific discoveries,” Harris said.

Harris and his group apply coordination chemistry — which enables the control of geometric and electronic structure at the atomic level — to design, synthesize and study new functional molecules and materials. Specific interests range from the synthesis of metal-organic magnets (which offer to potentially revolutionize the energy economy) to the development of smart magnetic resonance probes (which could enable researchers to measure and spatially map anomalies in the microenvironment of biological tissue) to the study of reactive species in porous materials (which could lead to the development of new biologically inspired catalysts).

PECASE recipients are chosen “for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.”

Original article published on Northwestern Now website.  Written by Megan Fellman.