Kent State professor recognized by President Obama

Lydia Coutré

Research focuses on improving learning efficiency

Katherine Rawson, assistant professor of psychology, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers Jan. 13 in Washington D.C.

“It’s kind of that nice boost in the arm of motivation and inspiration to keep doing what I believe is important research,” Rawson said.

The award recognizes researchers who are early in their careers and show great promise in their work.

The U.S. Department of Education, the federal agency that funds her research, nominated Rawson for the award. She is one of 100 researchers that President Barack Obama recognized.

A major part of her research, undertaken with colleague John Dunlosky, professor and director of experimental training, focuses on improving the durability and efficiency of learning.

“It is a great honor, and it is nice to know that research of the sort is recognized and valued,” Rawson said.

The ceremony took place at the Commerce Building. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, presided over the ceremony, where each of the awardees was recognized individually for their research and presented with a certificate.

Following the ceremony, the awardees walked to the White House where they met the president. He spoke briefly to the group and took a picture with them.

Rawson said Obama made a point to differentiate between Nobel laureates and the awardees in Washington D.C. that day. While the Nobel laureates are recognized for the work they have done, recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers are recognized for the work they are going to do.

Without hesitation, Rawson said, the time she and the awardees spent with the president was the highlight of her experience.

“I knew it would be incredibly exciting to be there with him and to hear his words, but even with the high expectation of (it) being very exciting, I still underestimated how overwhelming that would be,” Rawson said.

Rawson said receiving the award is a motivation to continue to press forward.

“It’s also some burden of responsibility and expectation to continue to do good work and important work,” Rawson said. “Of course, in that sense, it’s also just renewed my dedication and interest in the work that I do and my belief in its importance.”

Contact news correspondent Lydia Coutré at [email protected]