Sharon Weiss, assistant professor of electrical engineering, has been recognized by President Obama with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.
Weiss is one of 100 beginning scientists and engineers who will receive up to a $1 million five-year research grant to further their studies in support of critical government missions.
Weiss was nominated for the Presidential Early Career Award by the Army Research Office of the Department of Defense. Federal departments and agencies nominate researchers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for strengthening the nation’s leadership in science and technology and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.
Weiss and her team are investigating methods to achieve faster and more accurate detection of biological and chemical materials by using portable porous silicon waveguides. This work has impact in medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring and homeland security. Her nanoscale biosensing research involves using a sensor made from porous silicon, a material with billions of tiny nanometer-sized holes (1,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair) to achieve more sensitive detection of biomolecules in less time. Sensors made in her photonic crystals laboratory have been used to identify specific DNA sequences and will be used to detect various toxins and viruses.