Courtney Miller, associate professor on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), has been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young professionals at the outset of their independent research careers.
"These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness," President Barak Obama said in a statement. "We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people."
In a process involving 12 federal agencies and coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President, the award winners are selected annually based on two criteria: innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, and commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, education or community outreach.
The focus of Miller's lab at Scripps Florida is developing therapeutics for memory disorders, including addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer's disease, with a focus on synaptic and neuroepigenetic contributors.
She began studying the role of memory and addiction as a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine. In 2005, she moved to the University of Alabama, Birmingham, for postdoctoral work in the then-nascent field of neuroepigenetics, studying the contribution of DNA methylation to memory. There, she made the fundamental discovery that DNA methylation can serve as a rapid and dynamic regulator of memory formation and storage in the brain. She moved to Scripps Florida in 2009.
Miller, who is an associate editor of the Elsevier journal Neuroepigenetics and 2015 Scripps Outstanding Mentor of the Year, has a passion for advancing women in science and is co-founder of the Professional Women's Nexus, a 400+ member group with a mission to improve the advancement rate of women in academia and industry.
As a Presidential Early Career Award honoree, Miller will receive up to a five-year research grant to further her scientific investigations. The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, DC ceremony this spring.
Previous recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award include TSRI Professors Erica Ollmann Saphire and Marisa Roberto.
The Scripps Research Institute