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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 27, 2011

President Obama names UI's Gregory Howes recipient of prestigious PECASE award

University of Iowa researcher Gregory Howes is one of 94 U.S. scientists and engineers named by President Barack Obama as recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Howes, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), is one of four researchers honored by NASA, with the other award winners having been nominated by other government agencies.

Howes was recognized "for outstanding contributions to improve understanding of the dissipation of turbulence and the resulting heating of heliospheric plasmas, and for leadership in education and outreach activities."

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

As a February 2011 NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award winner, Howes received a $1 million, five-year, NSF grant to study the near-Earth solar wind that influences such phenomena as the northern lights and can interfere with satellite-based communications systems.

The solar wind is composed of gusts of plasma -- electrically charged particles, or atoms that have been stripped of electrons -- that constantly flow outward from the sun. When these particles reach the Earth, some become trapped in the Earth's magnetic field to form the Van Allen radiation belts, two donut-shaped regions that encircle the Earth.

"The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is proud to have attracted researchers of the caliber of Professor Howes," said CLAS Dean Linda Maxson. "Achieving such high distinction so early in his career bodes well for Professor Howes, his department and college, the UI and the state of Iowa."

Prior to joining the UI faculty in 2008, Howes was an assistant professional research astronomer in the Department of Astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley from 2004 to 2008.

A short UI video describing collaborative supercomputing and featuring Howes' research can be found at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,