Bahl, Stephani receive Presidential Early Career Awards


Lois Yoksoulian

Gaurav Bahl and Kelly Stephani
Gaurav Bahl and Kelly Stephani
Six researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were named recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on young professionals at the outset of their independent research careers.

Two of the six honorees are MechSE professors: Gaurav Bahl  and Kelly Stephani. The other winners this year are professor Pinshane Huang from materials science and engineering; chemistry professor Prashant Jainmolecular and integrative physiology professor Daniel Llano; and physics professor Julia “Jessie” Shelton.

Bahl’s research focuses on systems that incorporate both optical and mechanical elements – particularly mechanisms where light interacts with photonic devices via radiation pressure, gradient force, electrostrictive pressure and photothermal effects.

Huang researches the atomic structure and chemical properties of nanomaterials and molecules to design materials and nanoelectronic devices for energy storage, sensing, catalysis and flexible electronics. Huang is also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Materials Research Laboratory at Illinois.

Stephani leads the Computational Kinetics Group, which utilizes direct simulation of molecular dynamics for improved modeling of nonequilibrium and noncontinuum flows, fundamental transport processes, and material response within multiscale, multiphysics systems.

Jain investigates artificial photosynthesis through light-matter interactions in nanoscale materials. He has affiliations with the department of physics, the Materials Research Laboratory and the Beckman Institute.

Llano investigates how the human auditory system processes complex sounds such as speech and recovery from brain injury. He is affiliated with the Beckman Institute and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine at Illinois.

Shelton studies particle physics with particular interests in dark matter, top quarks and the Higgs boson.

The young scientists and engineers receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions. The federal agencies involved include the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the National Science Foundation.