Mason Astrophysicist Receives Presidential Early Career Award

Posted: December 19, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Merav Opher, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science, has been selected to receive the distinguished and highly competitive Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Opher joins a select group of premier science and engineering scholars invited to Washington, D.C., for the PECASE awards ceremony and reception at the White House on Dec. 19.

Merav Opher receiving PECASE award
Merav Opher, center, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers on Dec. 19, 2008.
Photo courtesy of Merav Opher

The PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers doing independent research early in their careers. The awards foster innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology and highlight the importance of science and technology to the nation’s future.

Nominations are received from across the country each year, and only a top few scientists and engineers are chosen for the honor.

Opher received an official notification letter from the Executive Office of the President.

“Your discoveries and intellectual leadership provide an example to your colleagues and to succeeding generations, and will help shape the future. Our nation applauds your accomplishments and expectantly awaits your future contributions,” wrote John H. Marburger III, science adviser to the president and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Opher’s research efforts focus on developing a better understanding of the crucial and fundamental magnetic field effects in space physics and astrophysics. She studies magnetohydrodynamic instabilities, turbulence, space weather, coronal mass ejections and magnetic effects in stellar interactions.

Last year, Opher and her colleagues Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology and Tamas Gombosi from the University of Michigan published a paper in Science magazine that suggested the direction of the local interstellar magnetic field, located just outside our solar system. Opher has also analyzed data to confirm the shape of the solar system.

“The scope of Dr. Opher’s work clearly indicates her interdisciplinary approach to science,” says Dean Vikas Chandhoke of the College of Science.

“Her innovative research and dedication to supporting women in science are key factors that will continue to define her outstanding professionalism, as well as promote the visibility of the college and the university.”

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