University of Idaho associate professor Tara Hudiburg has been selected as one of the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Hudiberg was one of just four scientists from Idaho to receive the award and the only awardee in the state from a university. She will travel to Washington, D.C., on Thursday to receive the award, though she said it is unclear whether President Donald Trump will be in attendance.
While she knew she was in the running, Hudiburg said it was surreal to be selected – in part because she was out of the country at the time recipients of the award were announced.
“Everyone found out before me – I was in Switzerland and we did this hike and so we were kind of backpacking and I turned my phone off because the battery’s dying and we couldn’t charge it out in the Alps somewhere,” Hudiburg said. “I wake up in the morning, and (my phone) has been on for a second and I have this text message from my postdoctoral adviser saying, ‘Congratulations.’ ”
The award is billed as the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Recipients are recommended by various agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and the National Science Foundation. Hudiburg was selected among a field of other candidates who had received the NSF’s CAREER award, which is given to promising early-career faculty – which includes $653,000 in funding over five years.
“That award was for studying interactions between management and disturbance on forest carbon uptake,” Hudiburg said. “We do that at Moscow Mountain actually, by measurements, and then at the UI Experimental Forest, and then we do a lot of modeling to look at how that would impact the larger scale.
Established in 1996 for the purposes of maintaining U.S. leadership in science, about 100 people are selected for the presidential award each year – though there have been delays in the past. President Trump’s July 2 announcement of recipients completed awards from 2015, 2016 and 2017. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the awards.
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