President Obama Honors Computer Scientist


AUSTIN, Texas — Computer scientist Brent Waters was honored at the White House this week with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Brent Waters at the White House
Brent Waters at the White House
Waters and Brady Cox from the Cockrell School of Engineering were honored by President Barack Obama at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., July 31.

They were among 96 researchers who received the award.

“Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people,” Obama said. “The impressive accomplishments of the awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.”

Waters, 34, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Natural Sciences since 2008, focuses his research on computing security, finding new methods to secure stored data by encryption using an entirely different vision for encryption he calls Functional Encryption. Instead of encrypting to individual users, users can embed how they want to share data in the encryption process.

“I am very grateful to be given this award,” Waters said. “Traveling to the White House was a unique and special experience.”

The awards, established by President Bill 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.

For more information contact: Lee Clippard, 512-232-0675, clippard [at] austin [dot] utexas [dot] edu

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