MONTCLAIR — A Montclair State University professor was recognized by President Barack Obama for his work in environmental sciences, especially pointing to him as being a young leader in the field.

Pankaj Lal, who is a professor of earth and environmental studies, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his work helping to develop "a sustainable bioeconomy as a fossil fuel alternative," according to the school.

"It is extremely gratifying to get presidential validation of the research I am undertaking and an absolute honor," Lal said. "Personally, it gives me added confidence to continue on with my sustainable energy and resources research, which is one of the grand challenges facing modern society."

Obama, in a statement announcing the 102 award winners said, "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."

Lal arrived at Montclair as an assistant professor in 2011 before being promoted to associate professor last year. He credited his students and fellow researchers for helping him win the prestigious award. "I'm proud that their work contributed towards my getting this award, and am thankful to my colleagues at Montclair State, who have been extremely supportive.

Montclair State President Robert Prezant called Lal's receiving of the award an "obvious and natural fit."

"His work reflects the broad spectrum of critical and far-reaching research within our College that informs our students and simultaneously offers important, positive benefits to our global society."

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