President Barack Obama Selects Mauricio Delgado To Receive Prestigious Presidential Early Career Award

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Delgado Is Psychology Resercher at Rutgers University, Newark

Only 85 researchers nationwide are chosen each year to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and this year Rutgers Assistant Professor Mauricio Delgado is one of the select few.  Delgado, who is on faculty in the Psychology Department at Rutgers University, Newark, has been named by President Barack Obama to receive the award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.  

“This is an incredible honor and I am delighted about the recognition that our work at Rutgers is receiving,” stated Delgado.  His research group is funded by a five-year National Institute on Drug Abuse grant.  According to Delgado, his group is using functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how the human brain learns from positive and negative reinforcers, and how this information is used to guide decision-making.  Specifically, the goal of the project is to investigate how negative reinforcement influences human brain and behavior, as a precursor to understanding how humans learn to cope with potential negative outcomes – outcomes  that can influence decision-making in maladaptive ways, such as  drug abuse.

 More information on the research is available at

“Rutgers University Newark is incredibly proud for Dr. Mauricio Delgado!  He has built remarkable new understandings in human cognition in relation to learning and decision-making,” stated Philip Yeagle, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences-Newark.  “Dr. Delgado is an outstanding member of our program in Psychology, which is rapidly increasing in national and international recognition.”

Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Steven J. Diner noted, “Mauricio Delgado’s recognition  by President Obama is a well-deserved acknowledgment of the caliber of work he is doing at Rutgers, where we have long recognized him as a rising star in psychology.  It also reinforces Rutgers-Newark’s status as a major research university with first-rate faculty who are conducting cutting-edge research in critical areas of the sciences, arts, humanities and many other disciplines.”

Delgado has contributed many articles to journals such as Nature Neuroscience,  the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience,  the Journal of NeuroscienceScience, Neuron and Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Because Delgado’s research delves into intriguing areas — the relationship between fear of losing money and the fear of physical pain, how thinking positive thoughts fights cravings, and how stress affects the judgment of financial traders, to name a few — his research  has been reported on by media such as New Scientist, The Economist, Scientific American, MSN Money, BBC News and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Delgado, a resident of Caldwell, N.J., received his bachelor of science degree from Wesleyan University, Connecticut, in neuroscience and behavior. He has both master and doctoral degrees in neuroscience from the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. He was a post-doctoral fellow at New York University before coming to Rutgers-Newark to head the Social and Affective Neuroscience laboratory.  Delgado was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

 Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. Winning scientists and engineers receive research grants for up to five years to further their studies in support of critical government missions. 

In a statement announcing the awards, President Obama said, “Science and technology have long been at the core of America’s economic strength and global leadership. I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.”

 Ten federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate  scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.  Delgado was nominated by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.

 The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.

For more information, please contact Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5263, or email:


 Rutgers-Newark is home to the Newark College of Arts and Sciences, University College, the Graduate School-Newark, Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick, the School of Law-Newark, the College of Nursing, the School of Criminal Justice, the School of Public Affairs and Administration, and extensive research and outreach centers, including the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. Approximately 12,000 students are currently enrolled in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered at the 38-acre downtown Newark campus.