Columbia Engineering’s Professor Jose Blanchet given the prestigious presidential early career award for scientists and engineers


Media contact: 
Holly Evarts, Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations
New York, NY – November 9, 2010 – The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University today announced that Jose Blanchet, Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, has won a 2010 PresidentialEarly Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).  Blanchet was given the prestigious award for his “extraordinary research using simulations for estimating the likelihoods of rare but potentially catastrophic events; and for the education of students using state-of-the-art Monte Carlo methods.”  The award, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), gives Blanchet $400K to continue his research activities.
"I feel truly honored to receive this recognition,” said Professor Blanchet. “NSF nominates only 19 researchers across the whole range of science and engineering and I think that my inclusion is a reflection of the fact that Operations Research, the field that I represent, is critical to solving the research challenges so prevalent in our modern technological society.  This Presidential Award will serve as a wonderful source of encouragement for those of us in this field to continue to push our research to even higher levels." 
Blanchet is among 85 researchers nationwide, and one of 19 NSF nominees, to receive this national award, the highest honor that any young scientist or engineer can receive from the United States government. His work focuses on developing new tools for risk assessment of events such as environmental or natural disasters, major market crashes, pension and insurance breakdowns, and terrorist attacks, which, he notes, “are rare but consequential. Efficient evaluation of such rare-event probabilities can provide decision makers with key quantitative policy assessment metrics and insights.”  These include assessing ruin probabilities for purposes of sizing the capital reserve of insurance and financial companies, and computing the probability that a target is able to evade a set of detectors as well as its conditional most likely location.
“We congratulate Jose Blanchet on receiving this great honor,” said Feniosky Peña-Mora, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University.  “Professor Blanchet is a one-of-a-kind scholar whose research applications are very timely in these fluctuating economic times.  We are pleased that his colleagues in the scientific community have recognized his outstanding work by nominating him for this distinguished Presidential Award. Professor Blanchet joins an illustrious group of professors at Columbia Engineering who share with him this great honor.  We are so proud to count Jose as one of our own — he is a wonderful colleague and truly emblematic of the excellence of our faculty.”
Professor Blanchet, who was honored in early 2009 with the NSF CAREER Award for “Efficient Monte Carlo Methods in Engineering and Science: From Coarse Analysis to Refined Estimators,” joined the Industrial Engineering and Operational Research Department at Columbia Engineering in spring 2008.  His research interests include applied probability, computational finance, MCMC, queueing theory, rare-event analysis, simulation methodology, and risk theory.  Blanchet received his bachelor degree from Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico for Applied Mathematics and Actuarial Science and his masters and Ph.D. from Stanford University for Operations Research.  Prior to joining Columbia Engineering, he taught at Harvard University. 
Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers
The Presidential Early Career Awards (PECASE) program, established by President Clinton in February 1996 and coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President, recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge.  This Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.  Ten Federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious young scientists and engineers — researchers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for strengthening America’s leadership in science and technology and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions.
Columbia Engineering
Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science offers programs to both undergraduate and graduate students who undertake a course of study leading to the bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in engineering and applied science.  With facilities specifically designed and equipped to meet the laboratory and research needs of faculty and students, Columbia Engineering is home to a broad array of basic and advanced research installations, from the Columbia Center for Electron Transport in Molecular Nanostructures to the Columbia Genome Center.  These interdisciplinary centers in science and engineering, materials research, nanoscale research, and genomic research are leading the way in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve theoretical and practical problems in other significant areas.
#       #       #


500 W. 120th St., Mudd 510, New York, NY 10027    212-854-2993