Amy Cerato, a Hawley native and Wallenpaupack graduate, is among 100 beginning researchers nationwide named by President Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers starting their independent careers.
Cerato is an assistant professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science within the College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma.
“These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country,” President Obama said in an issued statement. “With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world.”
Cerato is studying how to design and build robust foundations for critical infrastructures, particularly in marginal soils. She says the U.S. spends $15 billion a year repairing infrastructure built on expansive soil, which exceeds what is spent annually on damage caused by floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados combined. Expansive soils are frequently overlooked as a major problem because they often take years to cause extensive damage.
“Receiving the PECASE Award is the highlight of my career,” said Cerato. “I am ecstatic.”
Her mother, Christine Cerato, said the whole family is excited by the news of the award. “I’m ecstatic and so proud,” she said. “I can’t put it in any other words.”
“It’s a great honor and (Amy) has worked very hard,” Christine added. Her mother, a teacher at Wallenpaupack Area School District, said Amy was always interested in science and math and has been studying engineering since she graduated WAHS.
It wasn’t a surprise to Carole Dunn either. Dunn, who teaches chemistry at WAHS, remembers Cerato as “an amazing all around student.” Dunn said Cerato stood out because she could do everything well, writing, lab work, math — she was good at everything. She was also an athlete.
“She was one of the most well rounded students I’ve ever had,” Dunn said.
Cerato said her interest in Environmental Engineering came after she worked as part of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) national conservation crew at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Kentucky the summer of 1994, following her junior year.
Holdren said in his letter of notification to Cerato, “America is counting on you to elevate its place in the world, both directly through your accomplishments and by inspiring others. I applaud your energy and ambition and look forward to your achieving even greater goals in the years to come.”
According to Thomas L. Landers, dean, OU College of Engineering, “Amy Cerato is highly regarded by her students and faculty peers. National recognition was sure to follow suit. We are very proud of her accomplishments and grateful for the recognition she brings to our engineering college.”
Page 2 of 2 - Robert Knox, director, OU School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, acknowledged Cerato for her early career accomplishments and as the recipient of the prestigious PECASE Award. “I knew when we were recruiting her that we had someone special. She has worked very hard over the past four years and is most deserving of this recognition.”