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NASA Postdoctoral Program alumnus receives Presidential Early Career Award

Top presidential honor recognizes research initiated during fellowship, continued at NASA’s Ames Research Center

April 16, 2014

Josh Alwood

Joshua Alwood in the Bone and Signaling Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center. Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dominic Hart

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Joshua S. Alwood, Ph.D., a former participant in the NASA Postdoctoral Program, was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a ceremony in April. PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Alwood received the award in recognition of advances in space bioscience he achieved at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The NASA Postdoctoral Program contributes to national priorities for scientific exploration, confirms NASA’s leadership in fundamental research, and complements the efforts of NASA’s partners in the national science community. ORAU has administered NPP for NASA since 2005.

As an NPP fellow at Ames from 2010 until 2013, Alwood studied the biological challenges the human skeleton faces in a zero-gravity environment and the radiation exposure associated with spaceflight. He also developed methods to use a new synchrotron transmission x-ray microscope to image cellular structures and canalicular networks in mammalian mineralized tissue. The transmission x-ray microscope made possible new discoveries by enabling visualization and quantification of structural changes in bone tissue after spaceflight in microgravity.

After completing his NPP fellowship in October 2013, Alwood continued his work at NASA’s Ames Research Center as a contract employee scientist researching the effects of zero-gravity environments on the human skeleton following long-duration spaceflight.

“My NPP fellowship allowed me to explore scientific questions with progressively greater autonomy, and provided positive exposure and recognition within my center and across NASA,” Alwood said. “Receiving this award has been such an incredible experience and should provide additional momentum as I start my research career.”

About NPP
NPP provides talented postdoctoral scientists and engineers with valuable opportunities to engage in ongoing NASA research programs and serves as a source of talent to ensure the continued quality of the NASA research workforce. These one- to three-year fellowship appointments are competitive and are designed to advance NASA’s missions in space science, earth science, aeronautics, space operations, exploration systems, and astrobiology. NPP is managed by ORAU.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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