Engineering, Physics Faculty Receive Presidential Early Career Award in White House Ceremony

Note to Editors: Photos of Amy Pruden-Bagchi and Jacob Roberts are available with the news release at

Two Colorado State University faculty members, Amy J. Pruden-Bagchi, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Jacob Roberts, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, were honored by President George Bush today with the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering.

The program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. This presidential award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.

The scientists – the only ones listed from a Colorado university – were among 56 honored Thursday.

"Drs. Roberts and Pruden-Bagchi are highly respected in their fields and exemplify the type of high-quality faculty at Colorado State University," said Larry Edward Penley, president of Colorado State. "Our scientists continue to make important advances in solving some of the world’s pressing global problems."

Pruden-Bagchi, nominated by the National Science Foundation, is recognized for research using molecular biology to investigate the pathways, mitigation and treatment of antibiotic-resistant genes in the environment.

Specifically, Pruden-Bagchi and her team looked for the occurrence of tetracycline and sulfonamide antibiotic resistance genes in five sampling sites along the Poudre River. They found higher concentrations in more populated or heavily farmed areas, but still detected antibiotic resistance genes in all sampling areas. Tetracycline and sulfonamide are commonly used antibiotics in people and animals.

In 2006, Pruden-Bagchi was awarded the NSF CAREER award; her research was presented in the January 2007 issue of Scientific American magazine.

"Amy’s research has attracted national attention and will continue to advance our understanding of antibiotic-resistant genes in our water supply," said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering. "Amy is typical of faculty in the college who continue to make groundbreaking discoveries and who help our students learn from some of the best scientists in the world."

Roberts’ research is focused on the discovery of new ways to cool ultra-cold gasses of atoms, particularly to create atomic gas Bose-Einstein Condensates, or BECs. These BECs are formed by cooling trapped gas atoms to temperatures well below a microkelvin so that a macroscopic number of atoms all occupy a single quantum state. The ability to image the BECs directly provides a clean diagnostic for measuring their properties and dynamics, making it possible to take pictures of an inherently quantum objects’ size, shape, motion and behavior.

Roberts was nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

"We are delighted with Jake’s accomplishments, and this recognition is well deserved. We very much look forward to the further development of Jake’s career in our physics department," said Rick Miranda, dean of the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State. "Jake’s research has shown incredible promise and has expanded our knowledge of the physics of ultra-cold atomic gas. Our students, too, will benefit through the opportunity to learn from a top researcher."

Roberts’ research is supported through a grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was nominated for the award through the U.S. Department of Defense.

Roberts and Pruden-Bagchi join Randy Bartels, assistant professor of electrical engineering, who was a recipient of the 2005 Presidential Early Career Award. Bartels was nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense.