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Johns Hopkins Faculty Members Awarded 2009 White House Early Career - 07/16/2009

Johns Hopkins Faculty Members Awarded 2009 White House Early Career

Release Date: July 16, 2009
Pablo A. Celnik, M.D.
Pablo A. Celnik, M.D.

July 17, 2009- Pablo A. Celnik, M.D., an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Thao (Vicky) Nguyen, 32, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, are among the 100 winners of this year’s Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Celnik, 42, was cited for his research on the underlying mechanisms of “plasticity” in the brain and central nervous system, work designed to speed the development of new treatments that promote recovery of function following an injury.

The medical director of Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Outpatient Neurologic Rehabilitation Program, he and his team manage problems associated with spasticity, weakness, cognitive deficits, and the aftermath of stroke, brain cancer, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury.

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Nguyen’s research focuses primarily on tissue mechanics, shape memory polymers and the fracture mechanics of polymers. She is developing mathematical and computational methods to help understand and predict the mechanical behavior of soft materials.

Her work has potential medical, aerospace and security applications. One of her projects, in collaboration with the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, involves studying how the mechanical behavior of the eye’s cornea and sclera transmits mechanical stress to the optical nerve. The research could lead to better treatments for glaucoma.

Nguyen, who is from Los Angeles, earned an undergraduate degree at MIT, and then received her master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. She worked for several years as a research scientist at Sandia National Laboratories before joining the Johns Hopkins faculty in October 2007.

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PECASE award winners are selected by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the award represents the nation’s highest honor for scientists at the outset of their professional careers. Awardees will be honored by President Obama at a White House Ceremony this fall.

The White House announcement, July 10, included a statement by President Obama noting that “these extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country. With their talent, creativity and dedication, I am confident they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world.”

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