President Obama honors Cal State L.A. alumnus as outstanding
CSULA program helped boost BriseÃ±oÂs career in scientific research
President Obama congratulates Alejandro BriseÃ±o on being named a recipient of the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Even after the murder of his father his freshman year, and the financial and emotional struggles that followed, Cal State L.A. alumnus Alejandro (Alex) BriseÃ±o was able to overcome his personal challenges and excel academically and professionally.
In fact, BriseÃ±o, who grew up in the city of Baldwin Park, was recently named by President Barack Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.
BriseÃ±oÂs award, which is also put forth by the U.S. Department of Defense, includes $1 million to further his research program at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Amherst, where he is an assistant professor.
After the family tragedy, BriseÃ±o discovered a passion for science and an aspiration for his future career through the research and advisement he received at CSULA. He was inspired and ultimately achieved a bachelorÂs degree in biology, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.
BriseÃ±o beams: Â[Much of] the credit goes to Cal State L.A. for educating and preparing me to do great science. This is where I got my big start and I never forget where I came from. I only hope that the modest success IÂve garnered will serve as an inspiration for other students to excel, not only at Cal State L.A., but throughout the nation.Â
BriseÃ±o, who was one of 96 researchers in the nation to be honored on July 31 at a White House ceremony, was cited for Âoutstanding research accomplishments in areas of organic semiconductor nanoelectronics and molecular crystals and breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of organic interfacial crystallization.Â
The Presidential Early Career Awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nationÂs goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy.
ÂDiscoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people,Â said President Obama. ÂThe impressive accomplishments of todayÂs awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.Â
CSULA alum Alejandro BriseÃ±o at the White House during the awards ceremony.
The awards, established by President 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.
During his academic journey at CSULA, BriseÃ±o conducted research in Professor Feimeng ZhouÂs chemistry laboratory through CSULAÂs Minority Biomedical Research Support-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS-RISE) M.S. to Ph.D. Program, one of the UniversityÂs Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Programs.
ÂHe published more than 10 research articles with my other students between 2000 and 2004, arguably a record among all the students researchers in the entire CSU system,Â said Professor Zhou. ÂAmong his peers, AlexÂs love for science is contagious and his desire to succeed is unparalleled. We all knew that he will be able to do something big, and this prestigious award just confirms it.Â
Carlos G. GutiÃ©rrez, professor of chemistry and director of the MORE Programs, said, ÂAlex asks important research questions and is wildly talented, creative and fearless in answering them in the lab. Through this award, President Obama recognizes AlexÂs potential to become a major force in polymer science and engineering.Â
Before the advantage to take part in innovative research, BriseÃ±o had to work several jobs to get through college, which included flipping burgers, watering plants in CSULAÂs Greenhouse, telecommunications, and selling plants at flea markets on the weekends.
ÂIt absolutely changed my life!Â said BriseÃ±o, attributing Dr. GutiÃ©rrez and the MBRS Program for the pivotal opportunity. ÂI was able to quit all the part-time jobs I had and focus my energy and passion in education and science. Also, there is no doubt that Dr. Zhou is the very best at teaching his students how to become successful scientists. The proof is in his scientific fruits. Look at where his students are today.Â
With a renewed vigor, BriseÃ±o eventually went on to earn a masterÂs degree in chemistry at CSULA in 2004, a masterÂs degree in chemistry at UCLA in 2006, and a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Washington in 2008. He did postdoctoral work in chemistry at UC Berkeley, before joining the UMass Amherst polymer science faculty in 2009.
ÂIÂm often asked Âhow do you succeed in what you do?ÂÂ BriseÃ±o shared. ÂI simply state, ÂThere will always be struggles and challenges in our everyday lives. The key is not to focus on the problem, but rather the solution. If one focuses on the problem, we will go nowhere fast!ÂÂ
Find out more at the following links:
- For a list of 2012 Early Career Award recipients:
- For UMass Amherst press release on BriseÃ±oÂs honor:
- For BriseÃ±oÂs complete biography:
- MBRS-RISE Program at CSULA:
- Department of Biological Sciences at CSULA:
- Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CSULA:
- College of Natural and Social Sciences at CSULA: