Anita Shukla earns top White House award for early-career scientists

Anita ShuklaAssistant Professor Anita Shukla is among the winners of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, the nation's top honor for early-career scientists and engineers.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Anita Shukla, an assistant professor in the School of Engineering, has been named a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), the nation's highest award for scientists and engineers in the early stages of their research careers.

Shukla, and Sohini Ramachandran, an associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, were among those chosen by the White House to receive the PECASE award, which goes to individuals "who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology."

U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced this year's winners on Tuesday, July 2. In response to the announcement, Shukla stated, "I'm truly honored to receive the PECASE. I am thankful to the Department of Defense (Office of Naval Research) for the nomination and support. This award is a great recognition for our lab's research in the area of responsive treatments and detection methods for infection."

Shukla's Laboratory for Designer Biomaterials develops smart materials aimed at addressing a range of biomedical challenges. Her work includes developing new antimicrobial drug delivery systems in the form of hydrogels, thin films and nano- and micro-particles, as well as microbial sensors that can detect the presence of harmful bacteria before infections occur. A recent example of her work is a polymer coating for catheters that can kill MRSA bacteria and prevent the formation of biofilms. Such a coating could help to reduce catheter-related blood infections, the most common type of hospital-acquired infection.

Shukla joins a growing list of PECASE winners from the Brown School of Engineering, including Professor Pradeep Guduru (2006) and Professor Rashid Zia (2009), who is now Dean of the College.

Established in 1996, the award acknowledges the contributions scientists and engineers have made to the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and to community service as demonstrated by scientific leadership, public education and community outreach. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE with participating departments and agencies.