By Sara Cody
Assistant Professor Ahmad Khalil (BME) is among 102 scientists and researchers honored as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.
“BME is proud to now have two PECASE recipients among our assistant professors, which reflects the extraordinary quality of our young faculty as researchers,” says Professor John White, chair of BME. “It is worth noting that Professor Khalil is also a superb teacher. In his brief career, BME undergraduates have chosen him multiple times as the best professor in the department, and last year he won the award as the best professor in the entire College. We are very lucky to have him among our faculty.”
PECASE selection is highly competitive. Awardees must first receive an early career award from one of the research-funding government agencies. Awardees are then selected by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy based on a nomination process. Nominated by the National Science Foundation, Khalil was recipient of an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for a project that aims to use synthetic biology to study and control prions. Most famously known for their role in transmitting neurodegenerative diseases, Khalil is exploring the potential for prions to produce positive and adaptive functions in organisms, such as yeast cells.
According to the announcement by the White House, PECASE recipients 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.” Khalil joins fellow PECASE recipient Assistant Professor Xue Han (BME,) who won the award in 2014.
“I’m honored and thrilled to have won this award and be recognized at this level,” says Khalil. “The award is really a reflection of our wonderful collaborations, including with the late Susan Lindquist, the support we receive here at BU, and of course the hard work of the students and postdocs I have working alongside me.”