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Published:August 17th, 2006 04:50 EST
NOAA Biologist and Physical Scientist Win Presidential Early Career Awards

NOAA Biologist and Physical Scientist Win Presidential Early Career Awards

By SOP newswire

Scientists who study pollutants in the atmosphere and the ocean were honored at a White House ceremony as recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards in Science and Engineering or PECASE.

Arlene Fiore, a research physical scientist at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., and Kathi Lefebvre, a research biologist at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Wash., joined 56 others who received the nation’s highest honor for scientists early in their careers.

“To achieve this distinction so early in the careers of these young scientists holds great promise for their futures, as well as ours. These are among the scientists to watch as they progress and tackle the environmental challenges that we all face,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We at NOAA are very proud of them.”

Fiore has “contributed significantly to the science of atmospheric chemistry and to our understanding of ozone pollution and its regulation,” wrote Ants Leetmaa, NOAA GFDL director in his nominating letter. Her work has led the Environmental Protection Agency to lower its estimate of surface ozone, suggesting that it was underestimated. Her work also links methane and ozone and notes that since both are greenhouse gases, reducing methane would improve air quality and benefit the climate.

Fiore holds a Ph.D. in earth and planetary sciences (2003) and a bachelor of arts in environmental geoscience (1997), both from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. She has been at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory since 2004.

While Fiore studies air pollution, Lefebvre looks at pollutants in the oceans, specifically harmful algal blooms, and their effect on certain fish populations.

Lefebvre developed a fish model system to study the algal toxin effects on the nervous system in the early development stage of finfish. This work can be used to determine if some declining fish stocks can be attributed to algal bloom toxins. She was recently awarded a grant from the NOAA Oceans and Human Health Initiative Center of excellence at the University of Washington to expand her current research to assess potential human health impacts.

Since April 2003, Lefebvre has been the team leader of the Marine Biotoxin Program Analytical Team of the Environmental Conservation Division at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Wash.

She holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif. (2001); a master’s in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, Calif. (1995); and a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Whitworth College, Spokane, Wash. (1989).

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Media Contact:
Jana Goldman, NOAA Research, (301)713-2483 ext. 181
(Photo of Kathi Lefebvre courtesy of David Marcinek.)