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News Release 98-001

Early Career Development Grants Foster Faculty Research and Education

January 5, 1998

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) honored 359 outstanding individuals nationwide in fiscal 1997 with Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants. NSF invested $40 million in these new grants in 1997. The awardees were selected from 1,935 applicants.

NSF established the grants to help promising scientists and engineers develop simultaneously their contributions to research and education early in their careers. NSF awards the grants to top junior-level faculty at colleges and universities. These grants are for 4-5 years and range from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

"This year's grants exhibit a remarkable range of science and engineering exploration combined with an impressive dedication to integrating research and education," said NSF Acting Deputy Director Joseph Bordogna. "This assembly of researchers, at the early stages of what we hope will be long and productive careers, gives us great confidence in the future of our universities and colleges and their impact on the nation's welfare."

The CAREER program encompasses all areas of NSF-supported research and education in science and engineering.


Editors: For a complete list of fiscal 1997 CAREER award recipients, their institutions and their projects, see:

National Science Foundation Examples of 1997 Career Awards

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded 359 outstanding faculty members nationwide in fiscal 1997 with Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants. The awards help scientists and engineers develop simultaneously their contributions to research and education early in their careers. Here are examples of this year's CAREER awards:

Ann L. Chervenak, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech, is creating software to manage massive storage systems for home computers of the future. These personal terabyte systems will contain more than 1000 gigabytes of magnetic hard disk space to store World Wide Web data, entertainment video, home movies, encyclopedias and other databases. The research seeks solutions to the technical challenges of performing automated backup to protect the storage system from disk failures and natural disasters; receiving data simultaneously from various network connections such as satellite, cable TV and phone lines; creating database-style indexes on the data to allow users to search quickly for particular items; and staging data from the disk system to the computer processor to help programs execute faster.

Mark C. Suchman, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin (with a joint appointment in the Wisconsin Law School), studies the role of law firms in building business communities. His research focuses on how Silicon Valley law firms have shaped the region's distinctive business practices by transmitting basic organizing know-how among inexperienced start-up clients. He will also launch a seminar in which graduate students in law, business and sociology will explore the intersection of law, innovation and entrepreneurship. He will introduce a second seminar in which pre-law undergraduates will learn about the practices and life-histories of local attorneys.

Helen Na, an electrical engineer at the University of California-Los Angeles, will develop new techniques for imaging the earth's ionosphere, a layer above the earth's atmosphere. The ultimate goal is to describe and predict the electronic weather in the ionosphere similar to the service provided by meteorologists for atmospheric weather. Electronic storms and "weather patterns" are critical to a number of systems which rely upon signals bouncing off of or passing through the ionosphere, including radar systems, radio astronomy telescopes, ocean surface wave monitoring systems and high frequency communications. She also plans to integrate this work into the development of new methods for teaching image processing which are made possible through advances in high performance computing.

J. William O. Ballard, an evolutionary biologist at The Field Museum in Chicago, will investigate the theoretical prediction that evolution in a microorganism which initially causes disease should eventually allow it to assist rather than weaken its host - a relationship termed "symbiosis." The research, using fruit flies, may provide important insights into the reproductive success, behavior and genetic divergence of many organisms. Ballard will integrate his research with a science education program for young women and minority groups in Chicago schools. The education program aims to build students' knowledge and interest in environmental biology.

Viola L. Acoff, a materials engineer at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, is studying procedures for welding light weight, high strength, advanced aerospace alloys of titanium intermetallic compounds. Her research couples actual welding and the computer modeling of the dynamics of the solidification phenomena in the molten weld pool as well as the microstructural evolution in the adjacent heat-affected zone. With her research, she plans to enhance the undergraduate curriculum by incorporating the computer models into the classroom, and also develop activities to involve minority students from nearby Stillman College.

Paula T. Hammond, a chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will examine the use of liquid crystalline polymers in the formation of multilayered ultrathin films that are constructed a single molecular layer at a time. The liquid crystals are expected to introduce order into thin films, and they have potential for the development of advanced, ultrathin electro-optical materials such as displays, sensors and smart materials. Research in these areas is critical to the leadership of U.S. microelectronics and communications industry. She is incorporating her research into new courses in materials chemistry and polymer science, and she is involved in outreach and mentoring programs for minority and women students.

Helen M. Doerr, a mathematics educator at Syracuse University, will investigate how students develop and make sense of mathematical models and their underlying structures, and how these relate to various possible applications. The study will focus on classroom learning where students have access to calculators, computers, and related laboratory equipment. Her work seeks insights into the roles and abilities that are important for learners as they solve problems in new contexts, and modify and extend models they have created. She will integrate these studies into guidelines for assessing student learning and materials for teachers' professional development.

Media Contacts
George Chartier, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Margaret Cavanaugh, NSF, (703) 292-8500, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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