Paul Barber, BU Biologist, Receives Presidential Early Career Award for Research Endeavors

in College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, News Releases, Science & Technology
June 13th, 2005

Contact: Ann Marie Menting, 617/353-2240 |

(Boston) — Boston University’s Paul Barber will be honored today as one of this nation’s most promising young researchers. One of 20 National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored researchers to be named for a 2004 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) honor, Barber is an assistant professor of biology in Boston University’s Marine Biology Program, in Woods Hole, Mass.

In addition to the 20 NSF-sponsored young researchers, the PECASE ceremony will recognize 38 other young researchers whose work is sponsored by eight federal departments or agencies. The 58 PECASE recipients will receive their awards from John Marburger III, science advisor to the president and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a 4 p.m. ceremony in the Cash Room of the Department of Treasury.

In his announcement letter to Barber, Marburger noted that PECASE recipients were selected on the basis of a “combination of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and community service demonstrated through scientific leadership and community outreach.”

Barber’s work exemplifies the letter and spirit of this criterion. An evolutionary and conservation biologist, Barber combines information from physical oceanography, evolutionary genetics, and geography to understand why the tropical seas of Indonesia show the highest biodiversity of any of the world’s oceans and to use this information to help guide conservation science and policy in this imperiled marine environment. This interdisciplinary approach is carried through to the academic courses he creates for students investigating the evolutionary differences of creatures found within and among the seas.

Barber also is instrumental in cultivating diverse human perspectives through his Diversity Project, an initiative that brings U.S. undergraduates, particularly individuals from populations currently underrepresented in science, together with scientists from Indonesia to work on challenging field and laboratory studies.

The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, established in 1996, is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Recipients are selected from nominations submitted annually by the eight federal department and agencies that sponsor early-career awards. The pool of potential award candidates is large; in NSF alone, Barber was among 350 and 400 young researchers and faculty whose work the agency sponsored in 2004 and who were eligible for nomination for the 2004 PECASE.

Faculty in the Department of Biology at Boston University conduct research on issues related to ecology, behavior, and evolution; physiology, endocrinology, and reproduction; neurobiology; marine biology; and cell and molecular biology.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. The university comprises 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multidisciplinary centers and institutes that are central to the institution’s research and teaching mission.

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