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Stony Brook University Professor Receives Prestigious White House Award for Young Scientists and Engineers

Stony Brook University Professor Receives Prestigious White House Award for Young Scientists and Engineers

Elizabeth M. Boon receives $200,000/year for 5 years; will attend White House meeting with President Obama

STONY BROOK, N.Y., July 14, 2009 – Stony Brook University Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Elizabeth M. Boon, 

Stony Brook University Chemistry Professor, Elizabeth Boon, White House PECASE winner.

has been selected by Barack Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). In addition to receiving an invitation to the White House to receive her award from President Obama, Dr. Boon will receive $200,000 per year for up to five years to continue her research.


Established in February 1996 when the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)was commissioned, the Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. The goal of PECASE awards is to recognize and nurture some of the finest scientists and engineers who show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century.


“These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country,” President Obama said. “With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that 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.”


Dr. Boon’s research focuses on bacterial biofilms, which are communities of bacteria that live on surfaces. 

Elizabeth Boon working in her lab.

Once a group of bacteria have established a biofilm, they are very difficult to kill, even with the most powerful antibacterial agents. These films can form on nearly any surface including teeth, tissue, metal, rock, plastic, wood, etc. Therefore biofilms are a concern in military, public health, and environmental sectors.


“Through this research we aim to show how nitric oxide plays a role in bacterial biofilm formation and degradation,” said Dr. Boon. “This type of research would allow scientists to manipulate these films to better protect everything from cargo ships to severe wounds.”


“It is wonderful that Professor Boon’s cutting edge research in an extraordinarily important area is being acknowledged and supported by this prestigious award,” said Dr. Samuel Stanley, President, Stony Brook University. “It is particularly exciting for all of us when Stony Brook’s early career faculty receive this kind of recognition.”


John P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology, Policy Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, says that Boon’s “promise as a leader stands out among her peers and places her in a position of great opportunity and responsibility, a position I feel confident she will fully embrace. America is counting on her to elevate its place in the world, both directly through her accomplishments and by inspiring others. I applaud her energy and ambition and look forward to her achieving even greater goals in the years to come.”


 “I am extremely honored to be selected as one of this year’s PECASE winners,” said Dr. Boon. “Although our work is still in its early stages, my research group and I have worked very hard, so national recognition of the potential of our discoveries is thrilling and gratifying.  Furthermore, this honor motivates me to work even harder to live up to the promise and potential for which I am being recognized.”


The PECASE award is just one of many that Dr. Boon has received in the past year. In 2008, she also received the ACS PROGRESS/Dreyfus Lectureship Award, the NYSTAR James D. Watson Young Investigator Award, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, as well as the Rising Star Award from the Research Foundation of SUNY.


“I am extremely pleased that Liz has landed yet another significant award,” says Eric W. Kaler, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Brookhaven Affairs at Stony Brook University. “This kind of highly prestigious recognition reflects well on the entire institution, but of course specifically acknowledges Liz’s remarkable research.”


Dr. Boon has been an assistant professor of chemistry at Stony Brook since 2006 and is also a member of the Chemical Biology Training Program, the Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Structural Biology, the Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, the Graduate Program in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, as well as a member of the Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at Stony Brook University. Dr. Boon graduated with an A.B. in Chemistry from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio in 1997; a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 2003; and received her NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley, from 2003 through 2006.


            Dr. Boon and her husband, Isaac Carrico, live in Stony Brook. They are expecting their first child in November.

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