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Physics prof honored by Obama

Benjamin Lev, assistant professor of applied physics, will be honored in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 14, as one of the nation’s most outstanding early-career scientists.

President Obama named him a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers on Monday.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy, a subset of the Executive Office of the President, confers the award each year to 94 scientists or engineers based on nominations from 16 different federal departments and agencies. The office looks for individuals who are pursuing independent research at the frontiers of their fields and who are committed to community service based on scientific leadership, public education and outreach. The National Science Foundation nominated Lev.

President Clinton established the award in 1996 with the stated purpose of “recogniz[ing] and nurtur[ing] some of the finest scientists and engineers who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the 21st century.”

Lev adds this honor to others including an $875,000 Packard Fellowship in 2010 and the National Science Foundation Career Award in 2008. Lev is a recent addition to the Stanford faculty, transferring to the Farm earlier this month after working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

His studies are focused on understanding the behavior of quantum matter.

“It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers — careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the nation,” Obama said in a press release. “That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists, but as model citizens.”

— Kurt Chirbas

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