Aaronson, Kellis recipients of PECASE 2010 Award

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November 8, 2010

Two Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty members, Scott Aaronson and Manolis Kellis have been selected for the 2010 PECASE Award--Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, as announced in the November 5, 2010, White House press release.

Scott Aaronson, is an assistant professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and principal investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). At CSAIL, Scott is a member of the Theory of Computation and Complexity Theory groups. His research interests center around fundamental limits on what can efficiently be computed in the physical world. This has entailed studying quantum computing, the most powerful model of computation we have based on known physical theory. Scott's work on this subject has included limitations of quantum algorithms in the black-box model; algorithms for quantum spatial search and for simulating restricted classes of quantum circuits; the learnability of quantum states; quantum versus classical proofs and advice; and the power of postselected quantum computing and quantum computing with closed timelike curves. Scott also maintains an active interest in many topics in classical theoretical computer science, including circuit lower bounds, computational learning theory, communication complexity, Bayesian agreement and inference, and the interplay of complexity and rationality.

Manolis Kellis is an associate professor of Computer Science in the EECS Department in the area of Computational Biology. Manolis is a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Manolis' research interests are in the area of computational biology, genomics, epigenomics, gene regulation, and genome evolution. These interests are further defined: (1) in the area of genome interpretation, Kellis' group seeks to develop comparative genomics methods to identify genes and regulatory elements systematically in the human genome; (2) in the area of gene regulation, Kellis's group seeks to understand the regulatory motifs involved in cell type specification during development, understand their combinatorial relationships, and how these establish expression domains in the developing embryo; (3) in the area of epigenomics, the Kellis group seeks to understand the chromatin signatures associated with distinct activity states, the changing chromatin states across different cell types and during differentiation, and the sequencing signals responsible for the establishment and maintenance of chromatin marks and (4) in the area of evolutionary genomics, Kellis and his group seek to understand the dynamics of gene phylogenies across complete genes, the emergence of new gene functions by duplication and mutation, and the algorithmic principles behind phylogenomics.

The press release reads:

"President Obama today named 85 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers."

Ten Federal departments and agencies collaborate annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected 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. Winning scientists and engineers have received research grants for up to five years to further their studies in support of critical government missions.

The PECASE winners will receive the award from President Obama in a White House ceremony next month.

Congratulations Manolis and Scott!