Campus News

President Obama honors UGA professor for energy research

Douberly PECASE award Obama
President Barack Obama talks with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House

Athens, Ga. – A University of Georgia professor was among a group of over 100 leading researchers nationwide who were honored recently at the White House as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, or PECASE, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professors in the early stages of their research careers.

Gary E. Douberly, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of chemistry, was honored alongside other scientists and engineers April 14 in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the agency’s officials. The group was then greeted at the White House by President Obama, who thanked them for their contributions and outstanding achievements.

PECASE awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Douberly has made advances in foundational spectroscopic studies of previously unobserved, complex, hydrocarbon combustion intermediates critical to the understanding of ignition and soot formation, and for service to undergraduates and the scientific community.

“It was an honor to have been nominated for the PECASE award by the Department of Energy Office of Science. Meeting President Obama at the White House was an experience I will never forget,” Douberly said. “He suggested to the awardees that rather than our contributions to science, probably the most important outcome of our work will be the trained students and post-docs that graduate from our laboratories and classrooms. I was proud to hear that the mentorship aspect of our work is appreciated, and I came home to Athens with a renewed motivation to work hard for the University of Georgia and its students.”

Douberly’s award highlights the important work being done within the department of chemistry and UGA’s scientific community, said chemistry department head Jon Amster.

“I am extraordinarily happy for this acknowledgment of Gary’s outstanding research program,” Amster said. “He has won two other significant early career awards in the last few years, from the National Science Foundation and from the Department of Energy, but the PECASE is certainly the most prestigious award of all of these and shows that he is a peer of the very best young science and engineering researchers in the country.”

The PECASE recipients are employed or funded by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution and the intelligence community.

Douberly received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Central Florida in 2000 and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006 under the direction of Roger E. Miller and Tomas Baer. Following postdoctoral work with Michael A. Duncan at UGA, Douberly began his faculty appointment at the university in 2008.

In addition to the PECASE award, Douberly has received the Early Career Research Program Award from the DOE Office of Science, the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, the Rao Prize and the Journal of Physical Chemistry Lectureship Award.