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US Forest Service Scientist Awarded High Honor by President Obama


President Obama has named Dr. Samuel L. Zelinka, a U.S. Forest Service scientist, as a recipient of 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. This year Dr. Zelinka joins 93 other scientists and researchers in the annual award.


Dr. Samuel L. Zelinka of the USDA Forest Products Lab

Dr. Samuel L. Zelinka of the USDA Forest Products Lab


Dr. Zelinka works at the U.S. Forest Services world renowned Forest Products Lab (FPL), in Madison, WI. His expertise is in corrosion of metal fasteners in wood, electrical properties of wood and research on wood-moisture relations.


A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Zelinka is passionate about what he does. “I have a great job. I get to explore phenomena that are not, and have never been, understood,” he explains. “And I have the freedom to choose how I want to probe these questions. It’s addicting.”


The award is the first of its kind to be awarded to an FPL scientist. “We are very proud of Sam and his scientific accomplishments,” says FPL Acting Director Ted Wegner. “His diligence and dedication to research are reflected by this honor, and will serve him well as his career progresses.”


“It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers—careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the nation,” President Obama said. “That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens.”


The Presidential Early Career Awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy.

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