Namkee Choi, social work professor and the Louis and Ann Wolens Centennial Chair in Gerontology, is one of five faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE is the highest honor given by the United States government to scientists and engineers beginning their research careers.

Choi was nominated by the National Institutes of Health back in 2015 for her project “Telehealth treatments for depression with low-income homebound seniors,” which received a major NIH research award. Choi’s research focuses on depression in late life and improving depression treatments for low-income, racially diverse homebound seniors. Recently, Choi tested the effect of providing therapy to homebound older adults through video conferencing, often called teletherapy. The results were considered successful and are a step toward solving the larger problem of a national lack of geriatric mental health workers.

UT Austin is one of only eight U.S. universities to receive five or more of these awards. In addition to Choi, UT Austin recipients include Whitney Behr, Jackson School of Geosciences; James Howison, School of Information; Todd Humphreys, Cockrell School of Engineering; and Sarah Powell, College of Education.

“Whitney, Namkee, James, Todd and Sarah have each made remarkable research discoveries that are reshaping the way we understand, and interact with, our world and society,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “These faculty members have established themselves as leaders across a wide range of disciplines, and we look forward to even more accomplishments from them in the future.”

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