High-Quality Hires

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Early CAREER Award is the most prestigious and competitive recognition offered in support of early-career faculty by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. Awardees receive five years of funding, roughly $400,000 to $600,000, which provides a foundation to launch their research programs. The award also recognizes early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Since fall 2017, 34 assistant professors in engineering and the sciences from UC Santa Barbara have received prestigious Early CAREER awards, including 17 from the College of Engineering (COE). According to UCSB’s Office of Research, UCSB ranks first among all public universities in the percentage of assistant professors in engineering and the sciences who have received Early CAREER awards over the past five years. UCSB, with 57 percent, is followed by UC San Diego at 53 percent, UC Los Angeles (47%), the University of Virginia (45%), and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (44%). 

“UC Santa Barbara’s College of Engineering seeks to hire the best and brightest, so we take extreme pride in the high number of Early CAREER received by our junior faculty,” said Tresa Pollock, the college’s interim dean and Alcoa Distinguished Professor of Materials. “These prestigious awards are a testament to the high quality and long-term professional potential of our assistant professors as researchers, educators, and leaders in their fields.”  

UCSB ranked fourth among private and public universities, trailing only the University of Pennsylvania (72%), Cornell University (67%), and the University of Rochester (59%), all of which are private institutions. Harvard University ranked fifth overall at 54%, followed by UC San Diego (53%), Columbia (51%), California Institute of Technology (50%), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (49%), and Northwestern University (49%). The percentages were calculated using the five-year average of assistant professors in the sciences and engineering at a university.  

During the 2020-’21 academic year, the COE set a record for the most awards received in a single year with seven. That year, NSF awarded more than $3.6 million to support the innovative research of junior faculty from UCSB’s Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering Departments.    

NSF Early CAREER Award recipients from the College of Engineering (since FY 2017-'18)
2017-’18: Yon Vissell, Mechanical Engineering
2018-’19: Mahnoosh Alizadeh, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Christopher Bates, Materials; Bolin Liao, Mechanical Engineering; Zheng Zhang, Electrical and Computer Engineering
2019-’20: Alban Sauret, Mechanical Engineering
2020-’21: Yufei Ding, Computer Science; Elliot Hawkes, Mechanical Engineering; Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz, Mechanical Engineering; Galan Moody, Electrical and Computer Engineering; William Wang, Computer Science; Yu-Xiang Wang, Computer Science, Yangying Zhu, Mechanical Engineering
2021-’22: Raphaële Clément, Materials; John Harter, Materials; Angela Pitenis, Materials

Top Row (l to r): Mahnoosh Alizadeh, Christopher Bates, Raphaele Clemente, Yufei Ding, John Harter; Middle Row (l to r) Alban Sauret, Yon Visell, William Wang, Yu-Xiang Wang, Zheng Zhang, Yangying Zhu; Bottom Row (l to r): Elliot Hawkes, Bolin Liao, Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz, Galan Moody, Angela Pitenis

Seventeen COE faculty have received NSF Early CAREER awards since 2017-'18. Sixteen of the recipients are pictured above.