By Bill Kisliuk
Mona Jarrahi, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) — the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering researchers in the early stages of their careers.
Jarrahi, who is working to develop ultra-fast optoelectronic technologies for use in health care, telecommunications, remote sensing and other applications, joined the UCLA Engineering faculty in 2013. She is one of 102 scientists and engineers to receive a 2013 PECASE. The awards were announced Dec. 23.
“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Obama said in announcing the awards. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”
Jarrahi, who came to UCLA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she was a faculty member, focuses on developing next-generation devices and integrated systems for terahertz/millimeter-wave sensing, imaging, computing and communication systems.
Jarrahi’s group investigates novel materials, plasmonic nanostructures and device concepts that work at terahertz frequencies, with the potential to improve sensing and imaging of opaque substances and deepen our understanding of their molecular constituents.
“I am delighted and honored that my work on terahertz optoelectronics has been recognized with the presidential award,” Jarrahi said. “I plan to employ the terahertz device technologies developed in my group for medical imaging and diagnostics, biological sensing, atmospheric sensing, pharmaceutical quality control and security screening.”
Vijay K. Dhir, the dean of UCLA Engineering, said Jarrahi is the eighth current member of the school’s faculty to receive a PECASE.
“It is great news that Professor Jarrahi’s work has been recognized by the president,” Dhir said. “We are certain that she will continue to distinguish herself and will contribute as UCLA Engineering sustains and improves its reputation for teaching the engineers and leaders of the future, performing public service and engaging in cutting-edge research.”
Jarrahi has received many honors, including the National Academy of Engineering’s Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Award, an early career award from the National Science Foundation, and young investigator awards from the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Projects Agency.
“I would like to thank the current and former members of my research group for their great contributions and the excitement they bring to our projects,” Jarrahi said. “I also would like to thank our funding agencies — ONR, NSF, DARPA, ARO and NASA — for supporting our research.”
The early career awards were established in 1996. A variety of federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring U.S. preeminence in science and engineering and advancing the nation’s goals.