Purdue researcher receives presidential award

January 11, 2010 Emil Venere

Monica Cox (at center), an assistant professor of engineering education, speaks with graduate students Tenille Medley and Nathan McNeill during a research meeting. She has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers beginning their careers. (Purdue News Service file photo)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A  Purdue University researcher received a prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday (Jan. 13).

Monica Cox, an assistant professor of engineering education, received the award during a 2 p.m. ceremony in the U.S. Department of Commerce building's Herbert C. Hoover Auditorium.

"This honor is a tribute to Monica's research and teaching excellence and her impact on students," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "It also reflects well on Purdue's recently created School of Engineering Education."

The awards, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to young researchers, were presented to 100 recipients.

"I hope this award gives me opportunities to let others know that you don't have to be limited by your ethnicity, gender or any other factor," Cox said. "It also confirms that the American dream is possible for anyone."

The awards acknowledge the vital importance of federal support for university research while also stressing the key role of engineering education, she said.

"President Obama recognizes that scientific discovery is deliberate and takes hard work, patience and training," Cox said. "My research explores the process of research and professional discovery at the graduate level. By knowing the current ways that we are training engineering graduates within our universities, we can begin to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs and to offer propositions for developing new program elements."

Cox also was among nine Purdue faculty members who in 2008 won the National Science Foundation's most prestigious honor for outstanding young researchers, the Faculty Career Development Program, or CAREER, award. She also was elected in 2008 as one of 10 "Emerging Scholars" by Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Her research focuses on better understanding how to prepare graduate engineering students for careers in academia and industry.

As part of her NSF-funded research, Cox will evaluate students' professional development experiences in graduate studies. The integration of research and education will occur through course modules and print material that reflect research findings; the implementation of these modules in graduate engineering seminars and courses; and the involvement of undergraduate and graduate students in data collection, data analysis and module development over the project's duration.

Cox came to Purdue in 2005. She earned a doctorate in leadership and policy studies from Vanderbilt University in 2005, a master's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama in 2000 and a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Spelman College in 1998.

The federal agencies involved in nominating the presidential award winners include: the NSF; the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The award was established in 1996. Two previous Purdue faculty to win the award were Douglas Adams in the School of Mechanical Engineering and Carol Anne Clayson in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Source:    Monica Cox, 765-496-3461, mfc@purdue.edu