Two Duke Engineering Professors Win Career Awards

Assistant professors Andrew Schuler and Adam P. Wax at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering have received Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation. Each award is expected to total $400,000 over five years.

“The CAREER award is NSF’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members,” the federal research agency said. “The CAREER program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.”

Schuler, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, plans to study how microbes store energy sources in wastewater treatment plants, and how that affects microbial density. Ultimately, he said he hopes to optimize the biological treatment technologies for wastewater.

Schuler joined the Duke faculty in 2000 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tokyo. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. His grant is scheduled to begin Sept. 1.

Wax, assistant professor in Pratt’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, is working on the development of non-invasive optical techniques to detect light scattered by human cells and tissues to determine their structural and functional features. This could have significant potential, for example, for early detection of some types of cancer.

Wax, whose grant was effective Feb. 1, joined the Pratt faculty in 2002 after doing postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Duke in 1999.

The NSF established the CAREER program in 1995 to help top-performing scientists and engineers develop their contributions and commitment to research and education early in their careers.