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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

White House Honors Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Matthew Oehlschlaeger With Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

November 8, 2010

White House Honors Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Matthew Oehlschlaeger With Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

PECASE Is the Highest Honor Given by the United States Government to Outstanding Young Scientists and Engineers

The White House has recognized Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Matthew Oehlschlaeger with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

The PECASE award, which will include funding support that has not yet been announced, recognizes Oehlschlaeger’s U.S. Air Force-funded research on the combustion chemistry of aviation fuels.

The Presidential Early Career Awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy, the White House said. Ten federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s pre-eminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions. Nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense, Oehlschlaeger, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer, is one of 85 PECASE recipients in the nation.

“Science and technology have long been at the core of America’s economic strength and global leadership," said President Barack Obama. “I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.”

“The Rensselaer community is extremely proud of Dr. Oehlschlaeger, and we extend our heartiest congratulations for receiving the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Energy security is a key national and global challenge, one which will require fresh perspectives and innovation of the highest order. The research of Dr. Oehlschlaeger holds the potential to enable greener, cleaner aviation engines. Like all of our faculty and students, he is endeavoring to change the world.”

“We congratulate Matt for this outstanding achievement, and for being recognized by the White House as one of the most talented and promising young researchers in the nation,” said Rensselaer Provost Robert Palazzo. “I have every confidence that PECASE will be one of the many highlights decorating Matt’s lengthy, successful career as a faculty member and academic researcher.”

“We were enormously proud, but not surprised, to read the White House announcement of Professor Matt Oehlschlaeger as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers,” said David Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. “Matt is an exceptionally talented young faculty member whose research is already garnering national attention. Matt’s research into the combustion chemistry of aviation fuels is at the leading edge and promises innovative and economical solutions to some of the greatest challenges in aviation propulsion. Matt exemplifies the PECASE recipient – he is innovative, intelligent, visionary, and collaborative. We are proud to count him among the many talented and dedicated faculty in the School of Engineering.”

“This is a tremendous recognition for Matt that reflects the quality, breadth, and depth of his research in next-generation fuels,” said Timothy Wei, head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering (MANE) at Rensselaer. “Matt is also a phenomenal teacher and is rapidly emerging as one of a group of outstanding leaders in MANE. We are all so pleased for Matt and look forward to all the great things he will accomplish in the future.”

“I’m honored and very excited to be recognized with the PECASE award,” Oehlschlaeger said. “I’m grateful to those who nominated me at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, my colleagues at Rensselaer for their support, and the graduate and undergraduate students who I’m lucky enough to interact with every day and who really make the research happen.”

Oehlschlaeger’s research is aimed at understanding fuel combustion chemistry for alternative and traditional aviation fuels. He is interested in the way potential alternative aviation fuels, derived from biomass and other sources, will impact aero-propulsion systems. Oehlschlaeger said he believes a better understanding of fuel chemistry can lead to better designs for propulsions systems, including those with higher performance, greater efficiency, and reduced emissions.

After joining the Rensselaer faculty as an assistant professor in 2006, Oehlschlaeger was named associate professor in July 2010. Prior to joining Rensselaer, he was a postdoctoral scholar and graduate research assistant at Stanford University. He has published nearly 30 peer-reviewed papers and delivered several dozen presentations and invited presentations.

Earlier this year, Oehlschlaeger won the 2010 Research Excellence Award from the School of Engineering at Rensselaer, and in 2007 the Young Investigator Award from the U.S. Office of Naval Research. In 2006, he won the Young Investigator Award from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, as well as the New Faculty Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Petroleum Research Fund. He also received the Bernard Lewis Fellowship in 2004 from the Combustion Institute.

Oehlschlaeger earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2000, and went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 2002 and 2005, respectively.

The PECASE awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. 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. Winning scientists and engineers have received research grants for up to five years to further their studies in support of critical government missions.

For more information on Oehlschlaeger’s research at Rensselaer, visit:

For more information on PECASE, visit:

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161