Three Penn Researchers Receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

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Media Contact:Greg Lester | | 215-573-6604
Media Contact:Ed Mahon | | 215-662-2560June 28, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- Three researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have been named among 58 of the nation's most promising young scientists and engineers by President Bush with the 2004 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Marija Drndic, of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences and Tejvir Khurana and Kevin G. Volpp, both of Penn's School of Medicine, were honored at a ceremony June 13 at the White House.

PECASE, as the award is known, was established in 1996 to honor the most promising researchers in the nation within their fields.  Eight federal departments and agencies annually nominate scientists and engineers at the start of their independent careers whose work shows exceptional promise for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the 21st century.  Participating agencies award these scientists and engineers up to five years of funding to further their research in support of critical government missions.

Drndic, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was nominated by the Department of Defense's Office of Naval Research for contributions to understanding the physics and applications of broad ranging nanoscale electronic devices and materials.  The award cited her innovative studies of semiconductor nanocrystals for practical device applications and her outstanding performance as a teacher and guest lecturer to both domestic and international audiences.

The Drndic laboratory focuses on the exploration of structures in the areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology.  She studies the fundamental physical properties of structures such as nanocrystals, nanowires and biomaterials in order to develop applications for their use.  Additional information on her work is available at  

Khurana, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, was nominated by the National Institutes of Health for his studies on myostatin, a muscle protein, which might offer therapeutic strategies for muscular dystrophy. In general, he investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying muscle specializations and the physiology of muscle disease. He employs a variety of cutting-edge research techniques to study Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other muscle diseases.

Khurana is also a researcher at the Penn School of Medicine's Pennsylvania Muscle Institute.  More details about his work are available at

Volpp, an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine, was nominated by the Department of Veterans Affairs for his work in using econometric methods to study the effects of social policies and health system design on the health of patients and populations.  Volpp also studies the effects of financial incentives on health behaviors.

Volpp is also as an assistant professor of health care systems at Penn's Wharton School and a senior fellow at Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center