The award is presented to a young scientist or engineer (35 years of age or under) for outstanding theoretical or experimental work, at least some of which must have been published in the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology (JVST.)

Cuenya was recognized specifically for pioneering contributions to the understanding of processes taking place in metal nanocluster-catalyzed chemical reactions.

During her academic career Beatriz received an early CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (2005). She is the author of 31 peer-reviewed publications and three book chapters and has given more than 35 invited talks at international and national conferences and universities. She is also actively involved in high-school outreach activities providing research opportunities to local K-12 students. Within the AVS she is serving as associate editor of the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B and has taught an AVS-sponsored short course on nanophysics.