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Why Science?

ORNL is proud of its role in fostering the next generation of scientists and engineers. We bring in talented young researchers, team them with accomplished staff members, and put them to work at the lab’s one-of-a-kind facilities. The result is research that makes us proud and prepares them for distinguished careers.

We asked some of these young researchers why they chose a career in science, what they are working on at ORNL, and where they would like to go with their careers.

Payal Chirania

Graduate student, Chemical Sciences Division
Ph.D. student, Biological Mass Spectrometry, University of Tennessee
Hometown: Kolkata, India

What are you working on at ORNL?

My research focuses on understanding bacterial metabolism for use in bioenergy research. I am using mass spectrometry and bioinformatic methods to explore the mechanisms by which microorganisms break down plant material in natural environments. This knowledge can be applied in industries to enhance biofuel production.

What would you like to do in your career?

I want to continue working in the field of systems biology and explore new data analysis methods, given the amount of data biology is generating. Having a background in both experimental and computational methods, I want to use this experience to better identify solutions in health care and the environment.

Why did you choose a career in science?

Two words—curiosity and creativity—have attracted me to science. I have always been intrigued by the sophisticated mechanisms of the natural environment. Science helps me explore these mechanisms and employ them in innovative ways to our benefit.