University of Iowa researcher Randall McEntaffer is one of 102 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. The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, D.C. ceremony during 2014.
McEntaffer, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), is one of five researchers honored by NASA, with the other award winners having been nominated by other government agencies.
McEntaffer was recognized “for development of high resolution and high throughput X-ray gratings for use in the next generation of space-based X-ray spectrometers.”
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.
McEntaffer’s research involves the study of state-of-the-art methods for fabricating diffraction gratings, which lie at the heart of X-ray spectrographs. The goal is to improve X-ray astronomy research instruments to be carried aboard future space telescopes.
McEntaffer, a Sioux City, Iowa native who earned bachelor's degrees in physics and astronomy from the UI, joined the UI faculty in 2008 after having received his doctoral degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2007.