Scientist schooled in Santa Rosa wins presidential award

A Santa Rosa Junior College and Maria Carrillo High School graduate has been named by President Obama as one of the nation's top up-and-coming scientists.

Doug Hofmann, 33, now of Altadena, is one of 102 researchers given the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

All recipients' work is funded by the federal government and all are within five years of receiving their doctorate degrees.

"Basically these are all very ambitious, scientific superstar people, people who just had their foot on the gas pedal," Hofmann said.

"For those people in the world of academia, this is career-making," he said. "(For) those people who work in the federal government, it's a distinguished honor for your agency."

Hofmann, who in 1999 was a member of Maria Carrillo's first graduating class, works in both worlds.

He researches metals for space travel at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena but also teaches and guides Ph.D. candidates at his alma mater, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

"I'm working on developing new materials for gears for future missions like the Mars Rover," he said.

The award was started by President Clinton in 1996.

Hofmann's award is one of five from NASA's category.

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