Two UMIACS-Affiliated Researchers Receive Presidential Early Career Awards

Jul 10, 2019

Two researchers affiliated with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) have been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers.

Alexey Gorshkov, a Fellow in the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), and Adam Phillippy, who did his doctoral work in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB), are among 315 researchers nationwide to receive a PECASE award.

The awards, established in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: Pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

“Alexey and Adam exemplify the important role that talented young researchers will have in solving many of the scientific and societal challenges we face today,” says Mihai Pop, a professor of computer science and director of UMIACS. “Our research community is proud to work with both of them.”

Gorshkov, a physicist in the Quantum Measurement Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will receive the PECASE award for his pioneering work on understanding and controlling quantum systems, especially large and interacting ones.

At Maryland, Gorshkov leads a theoretical research group working at the interface of quantum optics, atomic and molecular physics, condensed matter physics and quantum information science.

In addition to his role at QuICS and with NIST, Gorshkov is an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Physics and a Fellow in the Joint Quantum Institute.

He recently chaired a workshop on Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum Technologies. The two-day event focused on the applications and benchmarking of quantum computers that are likely to be built in the near term—those that are too big to simulate classically but also too small to run the killer apps of quantum computation.

Phillippy is head of the Genome Informatics Section and a tenure-track investigator in the Computational and Statistical Genomics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

He received a PECASE award for his pathbreaking work on single-molecule DNA sequencing that is allowing for the assembly of complete genome sequences. Such assembly will help finish the remaining gaps in the human reference genome, which has a clear benefit to the study of genetic disorders.

From 2006 to 2010, Phillippy worked in CBCB with Steven Salzberg and others, researching new methods for pathogen detection using PCR, microarrays and DNA sequencing.

Previously, Phillippy had worked at the Institute for Genomic Research under the supervision of Pop, where they collaborated on developing several foundational tools for genome assembly and alignment.