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Aero/Astro Asst. Prof. Sigrid Close has been named one of the 102 recipients of the 2013 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the White House announced. It is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers.

"The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead," President Obama said. "We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America's global leadership for many years to come."

The annual awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. A White House press release indicated that thirteen government departments and agencies are invited to nominate "the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America's preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the agencies' missions....Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontier of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach."

Prof. Close was nominated by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She had won an NSF Early Development Program award to be used to extend her research in "meteor characterization using high-power large-aperture radar data." Her project combined "theory, numerical modeling, and observations of sporadic meteors and meteoroid plasmas in order to address fundamental questions regarding their origin and influence on the upper atmosphere." Subsequently, she won another Early Career Award, this one from the Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to study the behaviors of plasmas created when tiny meteroroids and space debris are vaporized in hyervelocity collisions with spacecraft.

Prof. Close is currently teaching courses in Classical Dynamics and in Plasma Physics and Engineering. Her Space Environment and Satellite Systems Laboratory (SESS) studies how the space environment affects spacecraft.

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