- Number 344 |
- August 22, 2011
Ament part of the next generation of rare-earth researchers
DOE’s Ames Laboratory has a long history of conducting materials research, particularly in the rare earths. The Lab’s first director, Frank Spedding has been called the father of rare earths and mentored a graduate student named Karl Gschneidner back in 1952. Fast forward to the present and Ames Lab senior metallurgist Gschneidner, an international rare earth expert in his own right and widely known as “Mr. Rare Earth,” is mentoring the next generation of rare earth researchers.
One of those researchers is Katherine Ament, a Ph.D. student in Gschneidner’s research group, who has spent the last year studying the magnetic properties of neodymium-iron-boron compounds in an effort to improve their strength. Upon graduation, she plans to take her rare-earth knowledge and use it to help find a job in industry. As a materials science undergraduate, her introduction to rare earths was more of a chance happening. “I was looking for a ‘different’ type of project, and this one came up. It kind of fit, and I enjoy it,” says Ament.
Ament believes the current national discussion on rare-earth research, production and education can only help lead to a greater number of student research opportunities at the Ames Laboratory and other DOE labs. “I don’t think it’s an obvious story yet, not in the classroom anyway, but there’s certainly more interest than in previous years,” she says. As a student, she also recognizes that the common denominator for future success hinges greatly upon government or private-sector funding available for both fundamental and applied rare-earth research.
But Ament’s involvement goes well beyond the research lab and the classroom. Starting last fall and continuing through this spring, she served as Ames Lab’s outreach coordinator for the “Making Stuff” program associated with the PBS NOVA series of the same name, hosted by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. Ament organized a series of educational events in Ames, Des Moines and central Iowa, working closely with the Science Center of Iowa, local schools and libraries.And if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also served as president of the ISU chapter of the Materials Research Society and was co-organizer of a symposium on rare earths that the chapter hosted in April. For her work with MRS, Ament was selected as Iowa State University’s Outstanding Leader of the Year.
Submitted by DOE's Ames Laboratory