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President Bush Honors USDA Scientists

Ed Loyd (202) 720-4632
Janet Allen (202) 720-2677

Printable Version

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2005 – President Bush honored three USDA scientists with the 2004 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a White House ceremony on Monday, June 13.

“We are very proud of the many achievements of these USDA scientists and the recognition they have received,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. “Their research efforts have advanced our understanding of the world around us and led to the development of new applications that benefit us all.”

The awardees, Devin G. Peterson of the Pennsylvania State University in partnership with USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), Edward S. Buckler, of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at Cornell University, and Michael K. Schwartz of USDA’s Forest Service, were nominated by their respective USDA agencies.

Peterson completed research that improved knowledge of how specific bioactive flavonoids alter the chemical pathways responsible for Maillard-type reactions important for flavor generation in food products and commodities, and for teaching and outreach to both the scientific and lay communities.

Bucker was recognized for pioneering genetic approaches that enabled researchers to identify individual genes controlling complex agronomic traits. He developed and adapted strategies for fine-mapping complex traits in plants to within a single gene, vastly improving gene-research resolution. These new strategies, which previously had virtually no application in plant genetics, make it possible to exploit the natural variation and diversity that have developed over the history of a crop species.

Schwartz was chosen for his exemplary professionalism in the field of wildlife genetics and ecology. His work included leading a team of international collaborators in using novel statistical methods to analyze genetic data. He also made several important discoveries in the field of wildlife genetics, including providing the first scientific evidence of bobcat-lynx hybrids in the wild using tests that he designed and implemented.

PECASE nominees are selected for their innovative research, which is at the frontier of science and technology. PECASE nominees must show exceptional potential to shape the future through intellectual and inspired leadership, such as through the integration of research and education. Educational activities must reflect a spirit of community service and may include efforts to help their colleagues or the general public understand the nature and implications of their scientific research.