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Alumni Fellows

Aguirre

Trevor Aguirre was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2020. His fellowship research focused on additive manufacturing of high-performance ceramics composed of refractory and ultrahigh-temperature ceramic materials and processing effects on microstructure, mechanical, thermal, and thermomechanical performance for use in power generation. His work contributed novel processing techniques compatible with additive manufacturing to produce ceramic heat exchanger materials that increase energy conversion efficiency in power generation processes. Trevor’s mentors included Vlastimil Kunc, Composites Science and Technology section head and James Klett, Extreme Environment Materials Process group leader, both in the Manufacturing Science Division.

Trevor’s fellowship gave him the opportunity to develop his own research focus, lead research initiatives, and collaborate with scientists at ORNL and private industry. His research contributed to the field of ceramics additive manufacturing, benefiting the energy industry. Trevor's ongoing research interests include understanding how the microstructures of additively manufactured ceramics can be tailored to withstand harsh environments necessary for efficient power generation. He is now on the research staff of ORNL’s Manufacturing Science Division. Trevor earned his PhD from Colorado State University.

Friederike Bock

Friederike Bock was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2019. Her fellowship research focused on producing very precise measurements of the photon signal in heavy ion and intermediate collision systems and on building a new detector that she hopes will unveil a new state of matter, gluonic matter, in currently uncharted phase space areas. Friederike’s mentor was Tom Cormier, who served as Relativistic Nuclear Physics group leader in the Physics Division during her fellowship.

Before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Friederike earned her PhD through a joint program of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Heidelberg. Her project represented the first effort to look at direct photons in proton–proton and proton–lead collisions at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland. Friederike is now on the research staff of ORNL's Physics Division.

Christopher Bowland

Christopher Bowland was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2016. His fellowship research focused on building a multifunctional composites program to develop scalable routes to integrate nanomaterials into fiber-reinforced composites for embedded sensing applications. He has also been involved at ORNL with developing sustainable, 3D-printable polymers utilizing lignin and investigating the molecular structure of those polymers in different environments using neutron scattering at the Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR). Christopher’s mentor was Amit Naskar, who leads ORNL’s Carbon and Composites Group.

Christopher’s fellowship gave him the freedom and flexibility to develop multiple areas within the composites field in which he saw research opportunities for growth. His ongoing research interests include developing routes to integrate multifunctional composites into real-world structures. Christopher patented the technology developed during his fellowship, and he is partnering with a private company to commercialize multiple multifunctional composites. He is now on the research staff of ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division. Christopher received his PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Florida.

Brelsford, Christa

Christa Brelsford was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2017. Her fellowship research focused on developing empirical and theoretical tools to increase our understanding of human–physical coupled systems, how they interact with and are influenced by the broader physical environment, and how collective social processes co-evolve with urban form. Her research was featured in a 2018 Science magazine video, and in 2020 she participated in ORNL’s Your Science in a Nutshell, an annual lightning-talks competition. In 2019 Christa won first prize in the Datathon on Computational Extremism at the International Conference on Computational Social Systems in Amsterdam. Working with a selection of YouTube channel comments, Christa and her team explored the temporal dynamics of online speech and how the discussion evolved with real-world events. Christa’s mentor was Budhu Bhaduri, Geospatial Science and Human Security Division Director.

Christa’s fellowship allowed her substantial flexibility to travel, meet people across many disciplines, and start to build interdisciplinary collaborations. She also focused during her fellowship on articulating a vision for a future research program that uses a broad range of quantitative methods and novel data sources to build a quantitative understanding of interactions between our social systems and the built environment. Christa is now a research scientist  with the Geospatial Science and Human Security Division. She earned her PhD at Arizona State University. Her dissertation research, which focused on urban water consumption, marked the first-ever comprehensive analysis of the water-conserving effects of one of the most widely used water conservation programs in the western United States.

Leah Broussard

Leah Broussard was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2016. Her research focused on developing new silicon detector technology for ultra-low noise and high resolution in detecting charged particles from free neutron beta decay. Also as a Fellow, Leah initiated a new program to search for mirror neutron oscillations using existing neutron scattering instruments at ORNL and pursued other areas of future growth for the Neutrons Group by characterizing detector effects and applying them to precision measurements in the beta decay of 45Ca and investigating the impact of the upcoming Second Target Station on fundamental physics. Leah’s mentor was David Radford, Fundamental Nuclear and Particle Physics section head in the Physics Division and a Corporate Fellow at ORNL.

Leah’s fellowship work has helped position ORNL as a world leader in fundamental neutron physics research. She was awarded a DOE Early Career Award in 2019. Leah's ongoing research interests include pursuing a better understanding of some of the most challenging experimental effects that can impact high-precision measurements in fundamental neutron physics and exploring a new line of research into the use of neutron scattering instruments for neutron oscillation searches. She is now a research scientist in ORNL's Physics Division. Leah received a PhD in physics from Duke University and was a Seaborg Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory prior to joining ORNL.

Stylianos Chatzidakis

Stylianos Chatzidakis was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2016. His research focused on developing new options for inspecting used nuclear fuel storage containers with cosmic-ray muon tomography. Stylianos produced the first research showing that muon momentum measurements could yield inspection images that are of higher quality and obtained in less time than was previously possible, resulting in reduced inspection costs and resources. He performed the first 3D neutron residual stress mapping of a spent fuel canister at ORNL’s HFIR neutron diffraction facility and is developing the MERF (Mobile Examination and Remediation Fixture) prototype, which will perform remote and automated remediation of spent nuclear fuel containers. His mentor was Josh Jarrell.

Stylianos’ fellowship provided him with a unique opportunity to work on a high-risk/high-reward research project that has kept him motivated to move his research area forward. He also cites as key benefits the guidance of senior ORNL staff and the credibility the fellowship has lent to his work and ability to identify new projects and funding. While a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Stylianos was nominated as a Technical Point of Contact for DOE’s Nuclear Engineering University Program and as a member of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group’s Topical Peer Review Committee. His ongoing research interests include spent fuel inspection and remediation, muon tomography, aerosol transport, nuclear fuel simulations using GEANT4 and COBRA-SFS, and using advanced statistical pattern recognition and machine learning methodologies. Stylianos earned his PhD in nuclear engineering from Purdue University.

Kelly Chipps

Kelly Chipps was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2015. Her fellowship research, focused on the nuclear reactions that power stars and stellar explosions, stemmed from an effort with collaborators to build the world’s most dense gas jet target for stellar reaction studies. Her fellowship project goals included improving the operation of this target system and demonstrating that it could be successfully used for indirect reaction studies. Kelly also reanalyzed existing system data for new information and developed a neutron detector for complementary indirect reaction studies. Kelly’s mentors included Michael Smith, who was Nuclear Structure and Nuclear Astrophysics group leader in the Physics Division during Kelly's fellowship; Cheryl Bast, who was a team lead in the Biosciences Division during Kelly's fellowship; and Ken Tobin, who was Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division director during Kelly's fellowship.

Kelly’s fellowship gave her the opportunity to pursue unique lines of research, look back at existing data for new insights, and understand how the Laboratory operates. Her ongoing research interests include exploring the nuclear physics behind neutron star mergers such as the one observed by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Force Observatory) a few years ago, including the astrophysical r-process, which is thought to produce roughly half of the elements heavier than iron. Kelly, who is now a research scientist in ORNL's Physics Division, earned her PhD in applied physics from the Colorado School of Mines.

Female researchers

Melissa Cregger was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2015. Her fellowship research examined how tree mortality altered belowground plant–microbe interactions and ecosystem carbon cycling. During this time, Melissa led development of multiple peer-reviewed journal articles highlighting the work of her team. Melissa’s mentor was Chris Schadt, senior scientist in the Biosciences Division.

Melissa’s fellowship gave her the freedom to explore new research directions while still engaging in collaborative work within ORNL. Interacting with other fellows also increased her awareness of the diverse research going on at ORNL and allowed her to grow her scientific network. Melissa, who is now on the research staff of the Biosciences Division, was awarded a DOE Early Career Award in 2021. Her ongoing research interests include answering fundamental ecological questions in the field of plant–microbe interactions, with specific focus on understanding what variables drive shifts in these communities and how changes in plant–microbe interactions impact plant growth and health and alter ecosystem processes. She earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee.

Cullen, David

David Cullen was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2010. His fellowship research focused on using recent advances in aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (AC-STEM) and complementary analytical techniques to robustly characterize new catalysts for fuel cells. The capabilities and expertise developed under this fellowship led to many key contributions in correlating the atomic structure and chemistry of fuel cell materials with fuel cell durability and performance. David’s mentor was Karren More, Center for Nanophase Materials Science (CNMS) director.

The high visibility of David’s fellowship helped him establish collaborations with top fuel cell researchers in industry, academia, and other national laboratories. In turn, these collaborations provided additional mentors, accelerated scientific discovery, and opened new doors and opportunities. David was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2019 and the Appalachian Regional Microscopy Society Young Investigator Award in 2013. His ongoing research interests involve correlating the atomic structure and chemistry of fuel cell materials with fuel cell durability and performance using advanced analytical AC-STEM. David, who is now a senior research staff member at ORNL's CNMS, received his PhD in materials science and engineering from Arizona State University.

Delgado

Andrea Delgado was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2020. Her fellowship research focused on quantum computing applications to high-energy physics. This work combined a scientific interest in extending scientists’ knowledge of the fundamental blocks of the universe and how they interact with each other and building better tools to analyze the data from large-scale particle physics experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider at Switzerland’s CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Her mentor was Marcel Demarteau, Physics Division director. 

Before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Andrea was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a National GEM Fellow at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. she earned her PhD from Texas A&M University. Andrea’s research interests include developing data analysis tools for high-energy physics experiments, including machine learning and quantum computing.  

Omar Demerdash

Omar Demerdash was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2018. His fellowship research focused on generating improved machine learning–physics-based computational methods that predict interactions of drugs and other small organic molecules with proteins and how drug binding modulates protein function. The primary science driver of the fellowship was cancer drug prediction, with the ultimate goal of predicting drugs with greater specificity and a lower side-effect profile. This work has applications to other human disease, including COVID-19, and the prediction of metabolite interactions implicated in plant–microbe interfaces, two areas in which Omar works. Omar’s mentor was Julie Mitchell, Biosciences Division director.

Omar’s fellowship has helped him become an independent researcher and understand how to integrate his skill sets and research interests into major ongoing ORNL research projects, including the neutron imaging and plant–microbe science focus areas. Additional ongoing research for ORNL exemplifies his approach of combining machine learning and physics and includes systematically improving potential energy models employed in molecular dynamics simulations of biomolecules using neutron scattering and other experimental data; developing models to predict the effect of mutations on structure and function; and predicting enzyme catalytic function. Omar received his PhD in biophysics and an MD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and subsequently received postdoctoral training in computational physical chemistry at the University of California–Berkeley. He is now an R&D associate in ORNL's Biosciences Division.

Marm Dixit, Alvin M. Weinberg Felllow

Marm Dixit was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2021. His fellowship research focused on addressing some of the key challenges facing solid-state battery (SSB) technology. While SSBs have the potential to revolutionize energy storage by addressing the limitations of conventional lithium-ion batteries, the knowledge from conventional liquid electrolyte-based systems is not directly translatable. Marm’s work aimed to bridge this gap by utilizing the facilities and expertise available at ORNL to develop a novel approach for understanding SSBs’ electro-chemo-mechanical behavior and informing the design of high-energy-density solid-state batteries. His fellowship research also took firm steps toward addressing challenges related to scalable component fabrication, chemo-mechanical degradation, and device integration. Marm’s mentors were Ilias Belharouak, Electrification and Energy Infrastructure section head in the Electrification and Energy Infrastructure Division, and Mali Balasubramanian, Emerging and Solid-State Batteries group leader. 

The DSF program gave Marm the flexibility to devise a wide range of research questions and pursue answers through lab experiments without fear of failure, which was incredibly fulfilling. He was able to connect with remarkable scientists and colleagues from across the lab, and his work strengthened the ORNL’s SSB expertise. The DSF program’s focus on developing leadership and mentorship skills in addition to technical skills played a crucial role in honing essential skills. In fall 2021, Marm was awarded a Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for Projects in Green Energy Technology from the Electrochemical Society to pursue battery and fuel cell research with an emphasis on unique, innovative, or unconventional technical approaches that can positively impact the field of green energy. Marm’s work also led to an R&D 100 award, a patent and open source copyright, and 10 invention disclosures. He has received $3 million in follow-on funding from DOE’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technology Office for SSB manufacturing research. His ongoing research interests include energy storage and conversion, electrochemistry, synchrotron/neutron science, imaging, heterogeneous catalysis, and big data and machine learning. He earned his PhD in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University. He is now an R&D associate staff member at ORNL.

Benjamin Doughty

Benjamin Doughty was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2013. His fellowship focused on the development and use of nonlinear spectroscopy and microscopy methods.  He developed new optical method and analysis routines for understanding chemistry at interfaces and in complex materials. Ben’s fellowship mentors included Bob Shaw, who led the Laser Spectroscopy and Chemical Microtechnology Group during Ben’s fellowship, and Phil Britt, who most recently served as Interim Associate Laboratory Director for the Physical Sciences Directorate.

Ben believes his fellowship gave him a good start to an independent scientific career. His ongoing research interests include understanding the molecular origins of chemical selectivity at interfaces, especially for chemical separations, using nonlinear optical methods to probe interfacial organization, orientation, and dynamics, and developing new tools to probe chemical localization and dynamics in complex living biosystems. Ben, now an R&D scientist in the Chemical Sciences Division, received a DOE Early Career Award in 2018. He received his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of California–Berkeley and held a postdoctoral position at Columbia University prior to joining ORNL.

Egle

Brian Egle was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2010. His fellowship research focused on developing a new heavy element ion source concept that is now the core technology of ORNL’s electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) program. 

Brian now heads ORNL’s Stable Isotope Research, Development and Production Section in the Enrichment Science and Engineering Division of the Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate. His research interests include EMIS, electron and high-ion plasma sources, magnet design, plasma separation process, high-flux neutron sources for fusion materials testing, and fusion technology development. 

Brian earned his PhD in nuclear engineering/engineering physics from University of Wisconsin–Madison. He spent 5 years as an engineer with a window manufacturer, taking a green field factory and new product line from early development to over a one-million windows produced. Brian received the DOE Office Science Appreciation Award for the enrichment of ruthenium-96, the first stable isotope produced in the United States since 1998, and he has been recognized with a 40 Under 40 Early Career Award from Knoxville’s business community.  

Male researchers

Addis Fuhr was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2021. His fellowship research focused on developing ways to integrate machine learning with ab initio computational chemistry and experimental materials characterization methods to enrich our understanding of the chemistry and physics of heterogeneity and defects in materials and to accelerate the discovery of materials with specific, desired functionality. His project enabled accelerated discovery and understanding of the physics and chemistry of defects and heterogeneity in complex materials for applications such as multiferroics, quantum materials, solar energy, and battery, refractory, or nuclear materials. Addis’s mentor was Bobby Sumpter, ORNL Corporate Fellow and Theory and Computation section head in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.

Addis says his fellowship allowed him to transition seamlessly into his role as an ORNL staff scientist at ORNL. His experience as a DSF provided the backbone and guidance he needed to learn the inner workings of ORNL and how to progress to his current role. His research enabled the generation of quantum chemical theory datasets that are publicly available to train machine learning models for improved theory-experiment matching. In addition, his work spurred development of machine learning approaches trained on theory data that can be applied directly in experiments for characterizing heterogeneity in nanomaterials. Addis’s ongoing research interests include combining theory with experiment to understand structure–property relationships for defects, heterogeneity, and coexisting phases in materials. He also is interested broadly in using theory/artificial intelligence to predict experimental signatures, and aiding in the design of materials with target functionalities.

Victor Fung

Victor Fung was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2019. His fellowship research focused on obtaining fundamental physicochemical descriptors of chemical properties, conducting high-throughput materials screening and developing machine learning methods for materials discovery and design. Specific topics of Victor’s research included the capture and conversion of methane, heterogeneous C–H functionalization, and the structure/property prediction of nanomaterials. His mentor was Bobby Sumpter, Theory and Computation section head in the CNMS. Victor was based at CNMS’s Nanomaterials Theory Institute.

Before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Victor was a participant in the DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program at ORNL. He went on to mentor students during his time as a Wigner fellow. Victor earned his PhD in chemistry from the University of California–Riverside.

Stephanie Galanie

Stephanie Galanie was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2018. Her fellowship research focused on facilitating enzyme and pathway discovery in the Populus (poplar tree) genus to increase drought tolerance and productivity, reduce recalcitrance, and manipulate metabolic profiles. By applying high-throughput heterologous microbial expression and mass spectrometry techniques to probe metabolism and help answer systems biology questions, her research improved our understanding of and increased our ability to enhance sustainability, robustness, and energy utility of organisms and ecosystems. Stephanie’s mentor was Tim Tschaplinksi, Biodesign and Systems Biology section head in the Biosciences Division.

Prior to her fellowship, Stephanie was a scientist at Codexis, a protein engineering biotechnology company. She is now Principal Scientist, Protein Engineering, with Merck & Co., Inc. She received her PhD in chemistry from Stanford University.

Haberl DSF alum

Bianca Haberl was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2014. Her research focused on high-pressure methods for the synthesis of novel crystalline and amorphous silicon and germanium structures. This work included the high-pressure synthesis and characterization of amorphous silicon and germanium at the Spallation Neutron Source as well as high-pressure indentation conducted in collaboration with researchers from University of Tennessee–Knoxville and ORNL’s CNMS. These efforts contributed to a wide-reaching plan aimed at growing a world-leading program in high-pressure neutron scattering. Bianca’s mentors were Matt Tucker, Diffraction section head in the Neutron Scattering Division, and Ashfia Huq, a group leader in the Chemical and Engineering Materials Division during her fellowship.

Bianca is now an R&D staff scientist in ORNL’s Neutron Scattering Division and contributes various efforts to the high-pressure neutron scattering program such as leading the High-Pressure Science Initiative, pushing various developments such as the megabar neutron diamond cell and ancillary required technology such as the development of 3D-printed collimation. She also continues active research in the high-pressure phase behavior of Group IVa elements carbon, silicon, and germanium. A special focus is thereby the synthesis of novel exotic structures that can be recovered to ambient conditions from local energy minima in their high-pressure landscape and that exhibit highly advantageous functionality. Bianca is also very active in outreach and education and serves as the ORNL director of the National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering.

Before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Bianca was a postdoctoral researcher in the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University. Bianca earned her PhD in physics at the Australian National University.

 

Chengyun Hua

Chengyun Hua was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2016. Her fellowship research focused on development of a predictive capability at ORNL for nanoscale thermal transport based on new ultrafast laser techniques and efficient Boltzmann transport simulations. Her research team successfully set up new ultrafast laser techniques in the Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory and provided a theoretical framework to understand nonlocal thermal transport in the nondiffusive regime. Chengyun’s mentors were Xin Sun, former Associate Laboratory Director, Energy Science and Technology Directorate; Lucas Lindsay, a condensed matter theorist in the Materials Science and Technology Division; and Jamie Morris, who led the Material Theory Group during her fellowship.

Chengyun’s fellowship allowed her to conduct independent research, broaden her scientific interests, and develop her professional network. Her current research involves applying ultrafast laser techniques to a new target: emerging quasiparticles in quantum materials. Chengyun is now an R&D associate in ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division.​​​​​​​ She received her PhD in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Gang Seob “GS” Jung

Gang Seob “GS” Jung was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2019. His fellowship research focused on developing integrated multiscale models that enable predictive design and simulation of materials of interest at ORNL. His work included modeling the growth of 2D materials and their mechanics, carbon fiber processes at the atomic scale, and low-energy CO2 capture as well as developing multiscale computational modeling capabilities. GS’s mentor was Stephan Irle, Computational Chemistry and Nanomaterial group leader in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division.

GS’s fellowship gave him the opportunity to collaborate with many scientists at ORNL and to work in various fields with various tools. His research interests include building a virtual lab where materials can be synthesized and characterized by combining and bridging advanced computational methods at different scales using ORNL’s world-leading high-performance computing resources. GS, who is now a research scientist in ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, received his PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Liangbo Liang

Liangbo Liang was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2015. His fellowship research focused on the integration of theoretical/computational approaches with experimental techniques for understanding nanomaterials and quantum materials, including modeling of scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy, Raman scattering, and photoluminescence spectroscopy. By integrating first-principles Raman modeling with low-frequency Raman spectroscopy, ORNL and CNMS became the first to show that low-frequency Raman spectra can be used as fingerprints to quickly characterize relative layer stacking in semiconducting 2D-layered nanomaterials. Liangbo was invited by ACS Nano, a high-impact journal, to write a devoted review article about low-frequency Raman scattering. This integrated technique of low-frequency theoretical and experimental Raman spectroscopy is a unique and featured capability at CNMS, attracting many new users to CNMS and leading to new collaborative research. Liangbo’s mentor was Bobby Sumpter, ORNL Corporate Fellow and Theory and Computation section head in CNMS. 

Liangbo’s fellowship provided a solid foundation for his research career, allowing him to develop his own research directions and collaborate with research staff members across ORNL. Equally importantly, the fellowship allowed him to travel to important domestic and international conferences to promote his research and start to work with researchers around the world. The theoretical modeling and simulations tools Liangbo developed during his fellowship continue to facilitate his current research and enable his work towards ambitious research goals: building digital twins of experiment tools (e.g., Raman scattering and scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy) to realize autonomous experimentation in the future.  

Liangbo, who is now on the research staff at ORNL's CNMS, was a recipient of the UT-Battelle Outstanding Scholarly Output Team Award in 2020. He has also received numerous CNMS Division Awards for Distinguished Scientific Paper, Outstanding Scientific or Technical Contribution, and Most Notable CNMS User Project. Liangbo received his PhD in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

Joseph Lukens

Joseph Lukens was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2015. During his fellowship, he conducted experimental photonics research in quantum information science. In 2016, Joe and colleague Pavel Lougovski discovered a new approach to quantum computing using frequency encoding, which was published in Optica in 2017. His mentors were Warren Grice, then group leader of ORNL’s Quantum Information Science Group, and Nicholas Peters, who now heads the Quantum Information Science Section.

Joe’s fellowship provided him with resources and freedom to pursue the most impactful research possible, which gave his career a jump start that he believes would be hard to find anywhere else. His ongoing research interests include quantum information processing with photons, Bayesian machine learning, quantum networking, and optical communications. Joe won the Significant Event Award in 2017 for ORNL’s first quantum technology license, Technology Commercialization Awards in 2017 and 2019, and a DOE Office of Science Early Career Award in 2019. His research was featured in the Optics and Photonics News “Year in Optics” in 2019. Joe earned his PhD in electrical engineering from Purdue University.

Maksymovych, Petro

Petro Maksymovych was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2007. His fellowship research focused on information materials at the intersection of phenomena of spontaneous polarization and electronic conductivity, contrasting the belief of their fundamental incompatibility. Topological defects were experimentally proven to allow coupling of polarization switching and conductivity, with prospects for highly energy efficient and continuously tunable neuromorphic computing elements for memory and computation. Petro’s fellowship work also led to new imaging tools for microscopy and dynamic spectroscopy of dipolar materials. Two key papers representing this work have been cited over 1,000 times to date. Petro’s fellowship mentors were Sergei Kalinin, a former Wigner Fellow who most recently served as Data Nanoanalytics group lead in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS),  and Arthur Baddorf, a research scientist with CNMS.

Petro believes that his fellowship allowed him to become both a technical expert and an independent thinker. He ventured into new research areas, connecting to fields previously unknown to him, and generalized his thought process away from specific cases. He says, even a decade later, many of his fellowship experiences continue to drive new ideas and scientific exploration. Petro’s ongoing research interests include developing methods to create and investigate hidden states of matter—long-lived structures and electronic properties that emerge from high-energy excitation or that exist entirely away from equilibrium—with particular focus on quantum and topological materials.

Petro, now a research scientist with CNMS, earned an ORNL Early Career Award for Individual Scientific Accomplishment and ORNL Director’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Science and Technology, both in 2011. He was a Web of Science Group’s Highly Cited Researcher in 2019 and earned the Peter Mark Award from the American Vacuum Society in 2015 and the Martin and Beate Block Prize from the Aspen Center for Physics in 2010. Petro earned his PhD in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh is 2007.

McGuire, Michael

Michael McGuire was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2007. Research during his fellowship began in the field of thermoelectric materials but shifted to iron-based superconductors and related compounds. As part of the ORNL team working in this area, including fellow Wigner Fellow Athena Sefat, his work mainly involved the synthesis and characterization of these materials and focused particularly on their magnetic properties. This work established ORNL as a leader in this emerging and rapidly evolving field. Michael’s mentor was David Mandrus, who led the Correlated Electron Materials Group during his fellowship.

Michael was awarded a Gordon Battelle Prize in 2011 based on his fellowship research and was named a Highly Cited Researcher in 2014. His research has evolved over the years to include a variety of topics in magnetism. For his work in fundamental and applied aspects of magnetic materials, Michael has received an R&D 100 award and an Excellence in Technology Transfer Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium, and he was recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher again in 2018 and 2019. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2017.

Michael’s current research efforts, situated at the interface of solid-state chemistry and physics, focus on developing layered magnetic materials that can be exfoliated into ultrathin and monolayer specimens for studying 2D magnetism and incorporated into van der Waals heterostructures, as well as magnetic topological materials and permanent magnets. He now leads ORNL's Correlated Electron Materials Goup. He received his PhD in in physics from Cornell University in 2006.

Josh Michener

Josh Michener was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2015. His fellowship research focused on combining microfluidics and microbiology to influence how bacteria evolve. Josh’s mentors were Brian Davison, chief scientist in the Biosciences Division, and Ken Tobin, who was Measurement Science and Systems Division Director during Josh's fellowship.

Josh’s fellowship gave him the freedom to pursue independent lines of research and to respond as new research opportunities arose. Interacting with other fellows allowed him to build connections across disciplines and to learn about the wide array of research being conducted at ORNL. Josh, now a research staff member in the Biosciences Division, received a DOE Early Career Award in 2019. Josh’s ongoing research interests include studying how enzymes and pathways function in different bacteria, with specific application to engineering bacteria for lignin valorization and enzyme discovery in nonmodel bacteria. He earned his PhD in bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology and held a postdoctoral appointment at Harvard University prior to his Wigner Fellowship.

Jason Nattress

Jason Nattress was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2019. His fellowship research focused on developing a combined fast-neutron/gamma-ray radiography system that can distinguish between high‑Z materials and produce 3D tomographic images. His project provided useful new material identification/inspection techniques to improve scanning times for ocean-going cargo containers. He also has made significant contributions to several National Nuclear Security Administration–funded projects at ORNL, and the work in his project has led to additional funding for new projects. Jason is a member of the nEXO Collaboration, organized by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for which he is the technical lead for the data acquisition system. He also serves on the editorial board for a new technical section of ORNL Review, a magazine that highlights research and development advances at the Laboratory. Jason’s mentor was Paul Hausladen, Advanced Radiation Detection, Imaging, Data Science, and Applications group leader and Distinguished Staff Scientist in the Physics Division.

Jason’s fellowship allowed him the flexibility to expand his research portfolio to include fundamental cross-section measurements of vital reactions of astrophysical, nuclear security, and societal importance. He is now a research associate in ORNL's Physics Division. Jason’s ongoing research interests include detection techniques for nuclear physics and nuclear energy and nonproliferation/security applications, specifically developing novel neutron detectors and neutron spectroscopy. He earned his PhD in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences from the University of Michigan in 2018. 

Jake Nichols

Jake Nichols was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2021. His fellowship research focused on developing novel models for filamentary plasma transport in the edge of magnetic fusion devices that incorporate advanced divertor regimes and realistic 3D wall geometries, helping to constrain estimates of the heat and particle fluxes that strike different parts of the vessel wall in a pilot plant–scale fusion device. His project advanced optimization of the main wall of a fusion reactor by shaping the wall geometry such that the strongest fluxes are concentrated on components designed for the task, improving component reliability while reducing overall reactor cost. Jake’s mentor was Zeke Unterberg, Power Exhaust and Particle Control group leader in the Fusion Energy Division. 

Jake’s fellowship allowed him to greatly expand his areas of physics expertise and build a broader array of technical skills than is typically possible during most projects. He was enabled to investigate risky ideas that pushed beyond the existing boundaries of the division’s core competencies. Jake also credits his position as a Distinguished Staff Fellow with his ability to participate in the 2023 Early Career Development Program, which gave him valuable exposure to the who, what, and how of the broad spectrum of research being carried out at ORNL. He ended his fellowship with a more holistic understanding of the interconnected challenges and physics gaps that need to be overcome in the fusion energy field and the tools that will help him address these challenges across his career.

Jake’s fellowship work helped build the foundations for burgeoning activities at ORNL regarding the design of plasma-facing components in the main chamber of a tokamak fusion reactor. His work identified the looming tension between main wall power handling, nuclear compatibility, and capital cost for a tokamak pilot plant and introduced a geometric paradigm that may represent an attractive integrated solution. Jake’s fellowship project has spun off into two new projects: a hardware upgrade of the main wall of the DIII-D tokamak to help address physics gaps in understanding boundary plasma transport, and a computational effort to assess and optimize main wall geometries for a fusion pilot plant using high-fidelity engineering tools. 

Onar, Omer

Omer Onar was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2010. His fellowship research focused on developing a power electronic interface for solar photovoltaic systems. During his fellowship, he contributed to an ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy) proposal, an experience that helped him learn to write effective proposals, resulting in his leading and winning many others. Omer’s mentor was Burak Ozpineci, Vehicle and Mobility Systems section head in the Building and Transportation Science Division.

Omer’s fellowship helped him quickly integrate into ORNL’s research culture and the national laboratory system. He also had great flexibility to get involved with projects in additional research areas. Serving as principal investigator on his fellowship project taught Omer to effectively manage research projects; plan a budget, milestones, and deliverables; and set metrics. Building on his project management experience, Omer now serves as PI on multiple projects per year, including DOE-funded research projects with industry partners and collaborators. He leads ORNL's Vehicle Power Electronics Research Group.

Omer’s ongoing research interests include transportation electrification applications of power electronics, with a primary focus on wireless power transfer systems for electric vehicle charging applications. He has received an R&D 100 award; ORNL Significant Event, Exceptional Effort, and Technology Commercialization awards; and best presentation and top journal reviewer awards. Omer earned a PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.

Joe Paddison

Joe Paddison was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2019. His fellowship research focused on using neutron scattering techniques to develop a deeper understanding of the behavior of magnetic materials such as quantum-spin liquids. Joe explored materials for which the effects of quantum mechanics and crystalline geometry coincided to create new states of matter featuring entangled magnetic states. During his fellowship, he developed an approach to reveal more information from diffuse neutron scattering data, which was published in the December 2020 issue of the Physical Review Letters journal. As part of collaborative teams, he has since used this approach to understand important magnetic materials such as quantum-spin liquids and magnetic skyrmions. He is a Co-PI of the project, “Understanding Quantum Matter Beyond the Unit Cell” funded by the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Joe’s mentor was Andy Christianson, a neutron scattering scientist in the Materials Science and Technology Division.

Joe’s fellowship has given him the opportunity to develop and pursue new ideas while using the neutron-scattering facilities at ORNL. Joe was awarded the 2021 BTM Willis Prize by the UK Neutron Scattering Group in recognition of his contributions to the study of frustrated (i.e., disordered) magnetic materials using diffuse neutron scattering. His ongoing research interests lie at the intersection of neutron scattering, materials’ structure and characteristics, and models of materials’ behavior. Joe, who is now a research associate in ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division, received a PhD in inorganic chemistry from the University of Oxford.

Parish, Chad

Chad Parish was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2009. His fellowship research focused on development of analytical electron microscopy for photovoltaics. Chad’s mentor was Karren More, Center for Nanophase Materials Science director.

Chad’s fellowship helped establish him as one of ORNL’s experts on using analytical electron microscopy to solve materials problems. His fellowship experience has allowed him to work on wide-ranging projects across different program offices and different energy-relevant fields over that last 10 years. His ongoing research interests include examining problems related to fission and fusion systems. Chad received a DOE Early Career Award in 2015, as well as the David J. Rose Award for Excellence in Fusion Engineering in 2018. He was elected to serve as secretary of the Microanalysis Society in 2018 and was reelected in 2020. He earned his PhD in materials science and engineering from North Carolina State University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Sandia National Laboratories before joining ORNL. He is now a research staff member in ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division.

Alice Perrin

Alice Perrin was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow in 2021. Her fellowship research focused on studying the effects of irradiation on grain boundary segregating nanocrystalline alloys. Alice worked to understand the segregated solutes’ behavior under irradiation and the resulting changes in microstructure and grain size, phase stability, and radiation hardening in this class of alloys. Alice’s mentor was Ying Yang, a research scientist in the Microstructural Evolution Modeling group in the Materials Science and Technology Division. 

Alice’s fellowship benefitted her career by offering an open-ended opportunity to learn how to conduct research in a national lab setting while allowing her the space to fail. Throughout the course of her fellowship, there were some successes and many failures—and she believes she learned so much more from the failures. Her fellowship also allowed her to make both internal and external connections that have already positively impacted her career. Alice’s ongoing research interests include nonequilibrium processing, thermodynamic and kinetic stabilization of metallic microstructures, functional alloy design for radiation resistance, and electrical and magnetic properties; additive manufacturing; and high-entropy alloys. She received a PhD in materials science and engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology prior to joining ORNL. 

Christian Petrie

Christian Petrie was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2014. His fellowship research focused on incorporating advanced instrumentation, primarily fiber-optic sensors, into materials and fuels irradiation experiments. Chris’ current research focuses on nuclear fuel development and accelerated fuel qualification, including investigating additive manufacturing techniques for fabricating nuclear fuel components with embedded sensors and using accelerated, separate-effects tests to understand the effects of neutron irradiation on fuel performance and sensor operation. Chris’ mentors were Joel McDuffee, who was a senior research staff member during Chris’ fellowship, and Kurt Terrani, a former Weinberg Fellow who served as the technical director of ORNL’s Transformational Challenge Reactor program.

Chris’ fellowship allowed him to seed ideas for new sensor technologies that could be integrated into existing R&D programs focused on fuel performance and more general radiation effects on nuclear materials. He leads the WIRE-21 irradiation experiment, the most highly instrumented experiment ever performed in the High Flux Isotope Reactor; the experiment tests wireless sensors for monitoring nuclear fuel performance, fiber-optic sensors, and self-powered neutron detectors, among other sensors. He now leads ORNL's Advanced Fuel Fabrication and Instrumentation Group.

Chris has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in journals and conference proceedings and has submitted 11 US patent applications primarily focused on advanced sensors for nuclear reactor applications, including fiber-optic–based sensors (e.g., temperature, pressure, strain, liquid level, and nuclear heating rates); methods for embedding sensors in metal or ceramic components; advanced postprocessing techniques for analyzing signals from fiber-optic sensors; and 3D-printed features on nuclear fuel cladding to enhance heat transfer and accommodate fuel swelling. Chris received the Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award from the American Nuclear Society in 2022 and earned his PhD in nuclear engineering from The Ohio State University.

Bryan Piatkowski

Bryan Piatkowski was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2021. His fellowship research focused on using evolutionary techniques to better understand how plants respond to challenging environmental conditions and identify the genetic components of stress tolerance that are shared across levels of biological hierarchy. He endeavored to produce a comparative framework to integrate genetic discoveries from disparate model organisms and facilitate the translation of such findings into novel systems. He worked to establish new capabilities to model the evolution of gene-to-trait associations and study how plants interact with their environment. Bryan’s mentor was Dave Weston, a staff scientist in the Biosciences Division.

Before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Bryan earned his PhD in biology from Duke University and was a postdoctoral research associate at Duke. He also served as a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant at Duke and Southern Illinois University.

Jacky Rios-Torres

Jacky Rios-Torres was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2016. Her fellowship research focused on the development of control schemes for optimal coordination and operation of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs). She also analyzed the impact of CAVs on fuel consumption, safety, and mobility and the challenges inherent in the transition to full automation, including interactions between CAVs and human-driven vehicles. Her research has shown that fuel economy can be improved by 13–40% with CAV adoption. Jacky’s mentors have included Xin Sun, former Associate Laboratory Director, Energy Science and Technology Directorate; Robert Wagner, Buildings and Transportation Science Division director; and Paul Leiby, Distinguished Energy Economics Researcher in the Environmental Sciences Division.

Being a Wigner Fellow allowed Jacky to grow her professional network, develop cross-disciplinary research collaborations, and continue on the path of becoming a thought leader in her research area. She followed up her fellowship by exploring ways to leverage ORNL capabilities in machine learning and high-performance computing to optimize CAV interactions with other traffic to achieve more efficient and safe mobility systems. Jacky earned her PhD in automotive engineering at Clemson University.

Katie Schuman

Katie Schuman was awarded a Liane B. Russell Fellowship in 2015. In research focused on algorithms, programming, and usability of neuromorphic computing, Katie developed the Evolutionary Optimization for Neuromorphic Systems software framework and a training algorithm for building programs for neuromorphic computers. She also wrote a survey paper during her fellowship on the neuromorphic computing field. Katie’s mentor was Robert Patton, Learning Systems group leader in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division.

Her fellowship enabled Katie to help build the neuromorphic computing research area at ORNL. She also had the opportunity during her fellowship to focus on research that interested her and to build a base of work to support funding bids as she continues neuromorphic computing research at ORNL. Katie, who joined the Computer Science and Mathematics Division as a research scientist after her fellowship, received a DOE Early Career Award in 2019. She earned a PhD in computer science from the University of Tennessee.

Sefat, Athena

Athena Sefat was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2007. Her fellowship research focused on developing iron-based arsenide superconductors. An article published during her fellowship, on which Athena served as the first author announcing the discovery of a new superconducting material, has been cited nearly 900 times to date. Her mentor was David Mandrus, who led the Correlated Electron Materials Group during Athena's fellowship.

Athena’s fellowship led to a DOE Early Career Award in 2010. As an ORNL senior scientist, she served as a scientific-technical advisor to the Experimental Condensed Matter Physics Program within DOE Basic Energy Sciences (DOE-BES). She also chaired ORNL’s Distinguished Staff Fellowship Committee (2016–2019), assisting with the selection of future Distinguished Staff Fellows at the lab. Athena now is DOE-BES Physical Behavior of Materials program manager. She earned her PhD in solid-state chemistry from McMaster University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Ames Laboratory prior to joining ORNL.

Jaswinder Sharma

Jaswinder Sharma was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2012. His fellowship research focused on synthesizing silica nano-microstructures for applications such as building insulation and energy-efficient windows. During his fellowship, Jas won highly competitive funding from DOE’s Building Technologies Office. He also patented his research extensively (eight granted patents) and published his work in high-impact journals including Angewandte Chemie. Jas’ mentor was Panos Datskos.

Being a Distinguished Staff Fellow provided Jas with the funding and freedom to do interesting research work. Additionally, he says the fellowship helped him to develop leadership qualities and learn best practices for leading scientific projects. Jas was a finalist for R&D 100 Awards in 2023 and 2020 and won ORNL Technology Commercialization Awards in 2019 and 2017, a TechConnect National Innovation Award in 2017, and an ORNL Significant Event Award in 2014. He is a long-time member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, serving as a poster judge since 2019. He also served ORNL as a Postdoctoral Engagement Committee member. Jas, who is now Interim Energy Storage and Conversion Manufacturing Group Leader, received his PhD in chemistry from Arizona State University.

Logan Sturm 2021

Logan Sturm was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow in 2021. His fellowship research focused on identifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities in additive manufacturing systems and developing techniques and platforms to mitigate the vulnerabilities. His work included evaluating in‑process monitoring systems for metal laser powder bed fusion in adversarial settings, developing new methods for improving the robustness of these systems to attacks, and investigating human factors and training to improve awareness and understanding of cybersecurity threats in manufacturing. Logan’s project provided improved security for manufacturing systems and increased awareness of the threats facing modern digital manufacturing. Logan’s mentor was Mason Rice, director of the Cyber Resilience and Intelligence Division. 

Logan’s ongoing research interests include in situ monitoring for additive manufacturing systems, vulnerability assessment in advanced manufacturing, data analytics for malicious defect detection, secure distributed manufacturing, unclonable security features for anticounterfeiting, and human–machine interactions in a cybersecurity context. He is now a cybersecurity research scientist in the Embedded Security Systems group. Logan earned his PhD from Virginia Tech. 

Stephen Taller

Stephen Taller was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2020. His fellowship research focused on generating methods to shorten the development cycle of new materials for service with nuclear technologies. During his fellowship, Stephen focused on the development and application of techniques for automating microscopy data acquisition and using machine learning to enhance the understanding of radiation-induced microstructure evolution in nickel superalloys, and the relationships between the radiation-damaged microstructure observed at the nanoscale and their macroscale mechanical properties. The techniques he developed will help reduce the time spent on post-irradiation examination to increase the amount of knowledge gained per design cycle. Stephen’s mentor was Christian Petrie, Advanced Fuel Fabrication and Instrumentation group leader in the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division (NEFCD).

Stephen’s fellowship research gave him the opportunity to explore emerging technologies and relate them to established characterization techniques. Being a Distinguished Staff Fellow provided several professional opportunities to develop skills in project management, proposal writing, and cross-laboratory discussions. His research contributed to the continual development of machine learning approaches for microstructure analysis, advanced manufacturing and processing of nickel superalloys for nuclear power plants, and microstructure design for radiation tolerance in alloys. He is now a research staff member in the NEFCD. Stephen’s ongoing research interests include understanding the life-limiting processes in materials for nuclear power reactor designs and how the microstructure of a material can be tailored to withstand the high temperatures and intense radiation fields expected in advanced reactors. Before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Stephen earned his PhD from the University of Michigan. 

Kurt Terrani

Kurt Terrani was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2010. His fellowship research addressed fundamental aspects of microencapsulated nuclear fuel fabrication and behavior. His mentor was Steven Zinkle, who is a Governor’s Chair in ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division.

The fellowship allowed Kurt to leverage capabilities across the laboratory including the one-of-a-kind nuclear reactor and hot-cell infrastructure to establish himself as the leading international expert in nuclear fuels with a focus on accident behavior and tolerance. He served as ORNL’s Transformational Challenge Reactor technical director before becoming Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s director of USNC Core. He earned his PhD in nuclear engineering at University of California–Berkeley.

Tetard DSF alum

Laurene Tetard was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2011. Her fellowship research focused on developing novel nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy tools to study the chemical properties of complex systems with infrared spectroscopy, beyond the limit imposed by diffraction. Laurene’s work led to the characterization of composition of plant cell walls and other soft materials with high spatial resolution.  In addition to Laurene’s contributions to her field, the developments her research group pursued on the atomic force microscope have been patented.  

During her time at ORNL, she worked with six other fellows and the Oak Ridge Postdoctoral Association to organize the first annual ORNL Postdoc Research Symposium. Laurene’s mentor was Philip Bingham, director of the Electrification & Energy Infrastructures Division and section head for Energy Sensing, Analytics, and Communications.

Laurene is an associate professor of the Nanoscience Technology Center at the University of Central Florida and serves as the associate chair of UCF’s Physics Department. Her research activities focus on pushing the frontiers of nanoscale instrumentation to advance the fundamental understanding of complex systems of relevance to societal challenges, including clean energies, food sustainability, and emerging unknown pathogens. Laurene’s team has led the development of several impactful approaches based on atomic force microscopy at the forefront of nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy. These new opportunities to explore functional materials and living systems have allowed her to foster truly interdisciplinary projects with domestic and international collaborators who have expertise in functional material design, catalysis, biophysics, quantum sensing, and planetary sciences. 

Her ongoing research interests include 2D materials, nanoarchitecture materials and devices, biomaterials, and nanoparticle–cell interactions. Laurene received the National Science Foundation Career Award in 2019. She was also recognized as a  Scialog Fellow in 2021 and earned the Experimental Physics Investigators Award in 2022. Laurene received her PhD in physics from the University of Tennessee–Knoxville.

Andrew Ullman

Andrew Ullman was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2020. His fellowship research focused on developing a new type of solid-state electrolyte that has high single-ion conductivity, forms a stable interface with lithium metal anodes, enables uniform stripping and plating of lithium, and ultimately, is incorporated into a high-energy, inherently safe, solid-state battery. Such batteries have the potential to revolutionize the future of electro-mobility. Andrew’s mentor was Robert Sacci, Energy Storage and Conversion interim group leader in the Chemical Sciences Division.

Before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow, Andrew held a postdoc position at Sandia National Laboratories and developed battery separator coating materials for lithium ion and lithium metal batteries at battery start-up Sepion Technologies. He earned his PhD from Harvard University. His dissertation work provided the understanding needed to further optimize the activity of metal-oxide–based water oxidation catalysts in neutral pHs. He is now an R&D staff member in ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division.

Unocic

Raymond Unocic was awarded an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship in 2009. His research fellowship focused on developing in situ/operando electrochemical scanning transmission electron microscopy techniques to image and analyze electrochemical process for energy storage materials. His work resulted in a new characterization method that allows for characterization of electrochemical processes such as lithium dendrites in a liquid and at high spatial resolution. Ray’s mentor was Karren More, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) director. 

Ray believes that receiving the Weinberg Fellowship gave him the opportunity to lead an independent research program and conduct research alongside some of the best scientists in the country. He is now Materials MicroAnalysis group leader at CNMS. Ray earned his PhD in materials science and engineering from The Ohio State University. He has won the MicroAnalysis Society Birks Award, two R&D 100 Awards, four US Patents, three ORNL Significant Event Awards, and a Best Presentation Award at the 19th International Microscopy Congress Meeting. 

 

Singanallur Venkatakrishnan

Singanallur Venkatakrishnan was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2016. His fellowship research focused on developing algorithms for neutron computed tomography (CT) systems that draw on ideas from such diverse fields as statistical signal processing, image processing, inverse problems, and machine learning. Venkat used model-based image reconstruction approaches that combine statistical models for data and low-dimensional signal models for the underlying quantity to be measured to enable high-quality neutron CT scans. His mentors included Hector Santos-Villalobos, who was Cyber Identity and Biometrics group leader in the Cyber Resilience and Intelligence Division; Philip Bingham, Electrification and Energy Infrastructure  Division director, and Ken Tobin, who was the Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division director during Venkat's fellowship.

Venkat’s fellowship gave him a great deal of freedom to pursue novel algorithms for a variety of imaging applications. It also allowed him to connect with scientists in different divisions at ORNL, leading to fruitful collaborations. While a Fellow, Venkat became an IEEE Senior Member and an elected member of the IEEE Signal Processing Society’s Technical Committee on Computational Imaging, his core area of research. His ongoing research interests include computational imaging and inverse problems. Venkat is particularly interested in using machine learning methods to improve the capability and quality of 3D-imaging instruments being employed across domains at ORNL, including electron microscopes, x-ray micro-CT scanners, ultrasound systems, and neutron CT scanners. He received a PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University. Venkat is now an R&D associate in ORNL's Electrification and Energy Infrastructure Division.

Zac Ward

Zac Ward was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2009. His fellowship research focused on developing novel experimental approaches to interrogate the physics of strongly correlated electron systems. That work led to the observation of isolated metastable electronic-phase domains, which gave access to previously hidden information on the physics driving correlated phase dynamics.

Zac’s fellowship helped establish him as an ORNL expert in thin-film correlated materials design and synthesis. He was awarded a DOE Early Career Award in 2017 for his efforts related to designing metastability in strongly correlated systems. Zac has performed organizing and elected roles in several professional societies and currently serves on the Journal of Applied Physics Editorial Advisory Board. He enjoys volunteering in science outreach programs such as ORNL’s traveling Science Fair and the Appalachian Regional Commission/ORNL Summer Science Institute.

Zac’s ongoing research interests include developing new methods of controlling individual order parameters to probe the physics driving quantum and energy-related functionalities in new materials. He pioneered the development of low-energy noble ion implantation as a means of strain-doping complex materials to tune orbital degeneracies and lattice symmetry. He is currently working to understand how disorder between local quantum states can lead to macroscopic magnetic, charge, and orbital ordering in crystalline materials. Zac, who is now on the research staff of the Materials Science and Technology Division, earned his PhD in physics from the University of Tennessee.

Travis Williams

Travis Williams was awarded a Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship in 2013. His research focused on performing neutron scattering research on magnetic materials. He investigated the permanent ferromagnet MnBi, which is of interest as a less costly replacement for rare-earth permanent magnets for room-temperature applications. Travis was able to show how atomic-scale interactions contribute to the magnet’s strength. Mark Lumsden, Spectroscopy section head in the Neutron Scattering Division, was Travis’s mentor.

Travis counts among his fellowship’s many benefits the opportunity to work on cross-disciplinary projects and the ability to pursue collaborations and explore novel research techniques. His current research as a staff scientist with the Neutron Scattering Division focuses on using neutron scattering and other experimental techniques to understand magnetism in 4f and 5f systems. Travis received a PhD in physics from McMaster University.

Distinguished Staff Fellow alumni

Guannan Zhang was awarded an Alston S. Householder Fellowship in 2012. His fellowship research focused on stochastic approximation and uncertainty quantification. He developed several stochastic approximation algorithms that have significantly accelerated high-fidelity particle simulators used in studying the stability of magnetically confined plasmas in nuclear fusion reactors. Guannan’s mentor was Rick Archibald, Data Analysis and Machine Learning group leader in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division.

Guannan’s fellowship provided him with sufficient flexibility to explore new research areas, which played an important role in his research career development. He was awarded a DOE Early Career Award in 2022. His ongoing research interests include artificial intelligence and scientific machine learning. Guannan is now a computational mathematician with ORNL's Computer Science and Mathematics Division. He earned his PhD in applied mathematics and computational science from Florida State University.