EDGE Center Investigator Dr. Catherine Karr wins Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

EDGE Center investigator Professor Catherine Karr has received the 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to federally-funded early career research scientists and engineers. 

Dr. Karr is a pediatric environmental medicine specialist and environmental epidemiologist. Her primary appointment is in the Department of Pediatrics. In addition to her role as Director of the Clinical & Translational Services in the EDGE Center, she has an appointment in the Department of Pediatrics, is an adjunct professor of epidemiology, and directs the Northwest Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU), where she sets the direction for outreach and education as well as responding to queries from health care providers, government officials, and families regarding health risks associated with environmental exposures. Dr. Karr cares for patients and teaches residents at the Pediatric Care Center, UW Medical Center-Roosevelt and provides specialty pediatric environmental medicine consultation at Roosevelt and Harborview Medical Center. She is affiliated with the Center for Children's Environmental Health Research and the Pacific Northwest Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH), both based at UW, and is involved in policy and education through the American Academy of Pediatrics National Council on Environmental Health

Karr uses a community engaged approach to her research focusing on environmental contaminants and pediatric respiratory health — including asthma, the health of farmworker children and global children’s environmental health. Her recent projects include working with Native American and Latino communities in the Yakima Valley to develop low-cost air pollution sensors aimed at reducing wood smoke exposure, conducting an intervention trial among Yakima youth with asthma to evaluate the effectiveness of home air cleaners, and investigating how exposure to environmental factors from conception through early childhood influences the health of children and adolescents. Karr said this about receiving the award: "My success reflects the shared dedication and hard work of community partners and community members who enable community engaged research to be done and be relevant."


Catherine Karr was one of 23 recipients nominated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and one of just two of 102 total award recipients from the University of Washington.

More than a dozen federal departments or agencies nominate young scientists and engineers from across the country whose “early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.” The final awards, first established by President Bill 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 and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. 

President Barack Obama said in a statement, “I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work. These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.”
--Marilyn Hair

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