Alexander Gamburd, professor of mathematics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has won a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the White House announced today.

The PECASE awards are the highest honor that a beginning scientist or engineer can receive in the United States. The winners are recognized in a ceremony at the White House. The PECASE program honors outstanding scientists and engineers who, early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge.

The award provides $400,000 over five years to support Gamburd's research, which concerns spectral problems in number theory, probability, and combinatorics, particularly problems related to sum-product estimates and expander graphs.

Gamburd joined the UCSC faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor of mathematics and was promoted to full professor in the summer of 2008. "He is the only person so far promoted from assistant professor [directly] to full professor in department history due to his outstanding research," said Chongying Dong, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics.

Gamburd is among 20 PECASE recipients who were nominated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from among the participants in NSF's Faculty Early Career Development Program. In addition, 48 other recipients were nominated by other federal agencies.

"We take great pride in the PECASE winners," said NSF deputy director Kathie Olsen. "It is important to support the transformational research of these beginning scientists, and to foster their work in educational outreach and mentoring."

In 2007, Gamburd received a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship. He earned his B.S degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from Princeton University.