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UC Merced Professor Receives Presidential Career Award

December 19, 2008

, an assistant professor in the

School of Natural Sciences
at the University of California,
Merced, has been selected to receive a prestigious award from the
White House.

Medina is the second UC Merced faculty member to receive the
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
(PECASE). The award recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers
who, early in their careers, have demonstrated exceptional
leadership potential, innovative
researchand community service.

The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government
to scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Medina is one of 20 winners nominated by the National Science
Foundation (NSF). NSF’s PECASE nominees were selected from among
those who received awards under the agency’s Faculty Early Career
Development Program (CAREER).

“UC Merced has received this honor two years in a row,” said

Maria Pallavicini
of the School of Natural Sciences. “This is a
remarkable testament to the world class talent of our faculty and
the research environment at UC Merced.”

Medina traveled to Washington, D.C., for today’s award ceremony
at the White House, where she was recognized for her research on
coral reefs. Her
examining how different environmental stressors, such as elevated
sea surface temperature and ocean acidification, are affecting the
life history of coral reefs. Medina’s lab uses a combination of
tools ranging from bioinformatics and genomics to molecular biology
and physiology. The outcome of her research could contribute to
conservation and management in these endangered marine habitats.

“It’s an amazing recognition,” Medina said. “Besides validating
my work, I feel with this award, NSF and the White House are
recognizing the importance of basic research on topics related to
climate change.”

Students in Medina’s lab have the opportunity to produce
through the university’s Web site. The podcasts are
broadcast in English, Spanish and Hmong, three languages
representative of the Central Valley populations.

The NSF’s PECASE awardees hail from universities and research
institutes from across the country, including Yale University,
Stanford University, Brown University and Johns Hopkins University.

Before accepting a faculty appointment at UC Merced in 2005,
Medina was a research scientist with the Department of Energy Joint
Genome Institute. Medina earned her doctoral degree from the
University of Miami and her undergraduate degree from the
Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

Medina is the second UC Merced faculty member to receive a
PECASE award. Last year, assistant professor

Shawn Newsam
from the
School of
received an award for his interdisciplinary research
in knowledge discovery in complex data. The PECASE program was
established in 1996.