CEOE's Oliver wins prestigious Presidential Early Career Award
At his lab on UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, Assistant Professor of Oceanography Matthew Oliver shows visiting high school students how satellites are used to study the environment.

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1:43 p.m., Nov. 9, 2010----Matthew Oliver, assistant professor of oceanography in the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), has been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

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“Science and technology have long been at the core of America's economic strength and global leadership,” said President Barack Obama in announcing the awards on Nov. 5. “I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.”

Established by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the awards are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. Winning scientists and engineers receive up to a five-year research grant to further their study in support of critical government missions.

A member of CEOE's School of Marine Science and Policy, Oliver will receive his grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), one of 10 federal departments and agencies that join to nominate the young researchers for the awards.

His research focuses on the global biogeography of the oceans -- where organisms live, at what abundance, and under which environmental conditions. To do that, Oliver analyzes biological and physical signatures that appear in satellite data streams.

“Understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of ocean ecosystems with satellites has allowed us to make predictions about a wide variety of ocean processes, including the vertical structure of the ocean, the expansion of ocean deserts, and the abundances of key commercial fisheries,” Oliver said. “These results are directly applicable to marine resource management and marine spatial planning.”

“These awards are intended to cultivate the next generation of thought leaders and innovators in the sciences and engineering,” said Nancy Targett, CEOE dean. “Matt's recognition is well-deserved, and the grant will allow him to further develop his research in ocean biogeography and to extend outreach activities around that research to benefit area high school students.”

Oliver, who joined the UD faculty in June 2008, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from California Polytechnic State University and his doctoral degree from the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.

Article by Elizabeth Boyle
Photo by Lisa Tossey

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