WSU chemistry professor wins top national STEM award


Khánh Nguyễn

Assistant professor of chemistry Alexandre Shvartsburg received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The Moscow native will be recognized at a ceremony from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Alexandre Shvartsburg, Wichita State assistant professor of chemistry, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) this summer.

The White House describes PECASE as the top award given by the U.S. government to “outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.”

Shvartsburg said he felt grateful to win the award. He first learned of the recognition from colleagues before receiving official notice.

“The prevailing feeling is that of validation and justice for my various efforts over many years that weren’t always understood or appreciated at the time,” Shvartsburg said.

The National Science Foundation initially nominated Shvartsburg for his leadership and work in ion mobility spectrometry.

Ion mobility spectrometry is a technique used to separate and identify molecules in a gas phase based on their mobility in a carrier buffer gas.

Shvartsburg also helped create a software that calculates for any arbitrary geometry at what speed an object would fly and under what conditions.

He first started working at WSU in 2014, and has since continued his research in the field.

A Moscow native, Shvartsburg came to the United States in 1993 to get a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Nevada. He later earned his doctorate at Northwestern University.

PECASE was first established in 1996 to acknowledge contributions scientists and engineers have made to the advancement of STEM education. Each year, the award is given to several professionals across the United States.

A university release says Shvartsburg is the first WSU professor to ever receive the award. Shvartsburg was the only recipient from Kansas this year, and only the third in the award’s history.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran gave a nod to Shvartsburg on Twitter in July after Shvartsburg was first announced for the award.

“Congrats to [Shvartsburg] for receiving the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers — the highest honor bestowed by the government on #STEM professionals,” tweeted the junior senator from Kansas.

Shvartsburg will be recognized at a ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 4 in the Miller Concert Hall Lobby at Duerksen. The reception starts at 4:15 p.m.