HST PhD grad receives nation’s highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers

Lara A. Thompson, an associate professor in the mechanical engineering department in the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, University of the District of Columbia (UDC), has been awarded the prestigious Alan T. Waterman Award by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Thompson, an HST PhD alum (2013), is the first principal investigator from an HBCU to receive the award. IMES is HST’s home at MIT.

UDC is also the first HBCU in the nation, the first university in the District of Columbia, and the first member institution within the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area to have a faculty member win this award.

The Alan T. Waterman Award is the nation’s highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers. It acknowledges an outstanding early-career U.S. science or engineering researcher who demonstrates exceptional individual achievements in research in NSF-supported fields.

Thompson is the founding director of the University’s Center for Biomechanical & Rehabilitation Engineering and the biomedical engineering program. “With this award, I can take my research a step further and explore various ideas and perhaps look into rehabilitation robotics and devices for veterans and amputees, which is another area that I am interested in,” said Thompson. “I hope I can give onlookers, particularly students, a source of both optimism and inspiration that they too can be future scientists and engineers and overcome any obstacles they may face, never give up, and ultimately achieve their dreams and career aspirations.”

The awardees will receive $1 million over five years for research in their chosen field of science. The Waterman Award will be presented to all recipients at a ceremony during the National Science Board meeting, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on May 5.

“We are thrilled with this award for Thompson, as this recognition affirms UDC’s creativity and innovation potential as an emerging research institution,” said Vice President for UDC Research Victor McCrary. “Our research enterprise serves our citizens for the challenges of climate change, healthcare, water and food security, education and lifelong learning skills. UDC students experience cutting edge research from top-notch professors, which compliments their in-class learning to provide a pipeline of diverse, domestic STEM talent ready to be part of our local economy.”

Read the NSF’s press release here.

This story originally published here.