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July 9, 2009

Purdue researcher receives presidential award

Monica Cox (center)
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A Purdue University researcher has been named a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to young researchers.

Monica Cox, an assistant professor of engineering education, will receive the award from President Barack Obama during a fall ceremony at the White House.

Purdue President France A. Córdova praised Cox for both her research and impact on students.

"This honor is a testament to Monica's hard work and validates our efforts in Purdue's new School of Engineering Education," said Córdova, a former NASA chief scientist. "Her work and this important career field are significant not only for our students, but also for a society that increasingly looks to science to help solve the technological challenges our world faces."

The awards, bestowed this year on 100 recipients, were announced by the White House on Thursday (July 9).

"This award reflects the superb accomplishments and future promise of a truly outstanding faculty member," said Leah Jamieson, Purdue's John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "I am thrilled about this recognition of Monica and the broader recognition of the importance of engineering education."

Cox also was among nine Purdue faculty members who last year won the National Science Foundation's most prestigious honor for outstanding young researchers, the Faculty Career Development Program, or CAREER, award. That $541,507 grant is for research in engineering education.

"I am honored to receive this presidential award and am excited that our nation's top thinkers recognize the importance of engineering education research, particularly research exploring the diverse experiences of doctoral engineering students," said Cox, who also was elected last year 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. The work aims to identify norms, skills and attributes that experts in academia and industry believe are essential for people with engineering doctorates to possess in order to succeed within a changing academy and society. The research concentrates on translating data from experts into valid and reliable tools that can explore the extent to which engineering doctoral students identify with expert-identified norms, skills and attributes.

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 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 by then-President Bill Clinton. 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,

Sources:Monica Cox, 765-496-3461,

France A. Córdova,

Leah Jamieson, 765-494-5346,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: The NSF contact for this award is Maria Zacharias, in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, 703-292-8454,

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/David Umberger)

A publication-quality file photo is available at


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