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Current Fellows

2021 Fellows

Marm Dixit, an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow, earned his PhD from Vanderbilt University. His dissertation focused on investigating processing–structure–function relationships in solid-state batteries. Marm’s thesis provided insight into failure mechanisms for several prevalent material alternatives of solid electrolyte as well as design rationales for achieving improved performance of solid-state batteries. These pivotal material technologies will enable electrification of the transportation sector and provide affordable, high-energy-density, durable, and safe energy storage. Marm’s mentor is Ilias Belharouak, Electrification and Energy Infrastructure section head in the Electrification and Energy Infrastructure Division.

Working in the Emerging and Solid-State Batteries Group, Electrification and Energy Infrastructures Division, Marm will focus his fellowship research on evaluating and understanding the fundamental behavior of novel solid electrolyte materials against metallic anodes and high-voltage cathodes to generate insights that can be leveraged into high-performance devices. He will also investigate the influence of component fabrication routes, device integration steps, and operation protocols on device performance to provide energy storage solutions with techno-economic feasibility.  His project is expected to enable scalable production of high-energy density solid-state batteries that significantly impact the mobility industry and help in the electrification of the sector. Marm’s ongoing research interests include energy storage and conversion, electrochemistry, synchrotron/neutron science, imaging, heterogeneous catalysis, and big data and machine learning.

Addis Fuhr, an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow, earned his PhD from the University of California–Los Angeles. His dissertation focused on the electro-optical properties of quantum dots with copper defects with a particular emphasis on copper indium selenium sulfide using a combination of theory and experiment. Copper quantum dots have received research interest as an environmentally friendly, heavy-metal-free alternative to cadmium- and lead-based quantum dots. Their electro-optical properties are unusual for quantum dots, making it difficult to determine how to optimize them for different applications. Addis helped unravel the mysterious origins of their unusual electro-optical properties and revealed the mechanisms for defect formation and physics. His research allowed for improved performance in various applications such as solar windows, solar cells, field-effect transistors, and light-emitting diodes and helped identify some new possible applications such as dilute magnetic semiconductors. Addis’s mentor is Bobby Sumpter, Theory and Computation section head in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS).

Working in the Nanomaterials Theory Institute in CNMS, Addis will focus his fellowship research on researching ways to integrate machine learning with experimental materials characterization, explore ab initio computational chemistry for accelerated discovery, and enable enriched understanding of the chemistry and physics of complex multinary materials (ternary, or beyond). His project is expected to enable accelerated discovery and understanding of the physics and chemistry of defects and heterogeneity in complex multinary materials for applications such as multiferroics, quantum materials, solar energy, and battery, refractory, or nuclear materials. Addis’s ongoing research interests include combining theory with experiment to understand structure–property relationships for defects, heterogeneity, and coexisting phases in materials.

2020 Fellows

Trevor Aguirre, an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow, earned his PhD from Colorado State University. His dissertation focused on investigating the architecture of biomechanically adapted unique porous bone architectures, including the trabecular architecture in the hind limbs of extant (elephant, rhinoceros, etc.) and extinct (mammoth and dinosaur) animals with large body mass, as well as the velar bone in Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep horns. Trevor’s master’s degree focused on ceramics and ceramics processing. Understanding bones mechanics has informed his work engineering strong, lightweight structures, and his knowledge of ceramics is a natural fit with additive manufacturing. His mentor is Vlastimil Kunc, Advanced Composites Manufacturing group leader in the Manufacturing Science Division.

Working in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Group, Manufacturing Science Division, Trevor will focus his fellowship research 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 is expected to develop novel processing techniques compatible with additive manufacturing to produce ceramic heat exchanger materials that will increase energy conversion efficiency in power generation processes.  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.

Andrea Delgado, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow, earned her PhD from Texas A&M University. Her dissertation focused on proving/disproving the existence of a particle not contained in the standard model of particle physics through the analysis of data collected by the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland. The existence of such a particle would help alleviate discrepancies in results produced by the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment, also at CERN. Andrea’s research at ORNL is interdisciplinary, focused on the intersection of quantum computing and particle physics. Her mentors include Travis Humble, Quantum Computation Science team lead in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, and Marcel Demarteau, Physics Division director.

Working in the Nuclear Structure and Nuclear Astrophysics Group, Physics Division, Andrea will focus her fellowship research on quantum computing applications to high-energy physics. This work combines a scientific interest in extending our 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 LHC. Andrea’s research interests include developing data analysis tools for high-energy physics experiments, including machine learning and quantum computing. Andrea was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a National GEM Fellow at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory before becoming a Distinguished Staff Fellow.

Stephen Taller, an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow, earned his PhD from the University of Michigan. His dissertation focused on how accelerated damage rate experiments in the laboratory can capture the relevant processes that occur in structural materials in a nuclear reactor. Stephen used multiple ion beams simultaneously bombarding a target as a source of radiation damage at a rate 1,000× higher than test reactors to isolate the roles of temperature, damage rate, and helium co-generation rate in the nucleation of cavities that lead to the life-limiting degradation mode of irradiation-induced swelling. His work also involved developing a physical model to speculate where helium resides in the microstructure of ferritic-martensitic steel after irradiation. His mentor is Christian Petrie, Advanced Fuel Fabrication and Instrumentation group leader in the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division.

Working in the Advanced Fuel Fabrication and Instrumentation Group, Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division, Stephen generates methods to shorten the development cycle of new materials for service with nuclear technologies. His work aims to bring the test and learn phases of materials evaluation in line with recent improvements in the design and manufacture phases. Stephen also focuses on the development and application of techniques for automating microscopy data acquisition and using machine learning to enhance the understanding of the relationships between the radiation-damaged microstructure observed at the nanoscale and their macroscale mechanical properties. The techniques developed will help reduce the time spent on postirradiation examination to increase the amount of knowledge gained per design cycle. 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.

Andrew Ullman, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow, earned his PhD from Harvard University. His dissertation focused on polynuclear cobalt complexes as models of a cobalt-based water oxidation catalyst. Using molecules to study structural and electronic analogs of an amorphous cobalt-oxide catalyst, he provided atomic-level insight into the mechanism of water oxidation at neutral pH, specifically pertaining to the contribution of the anionic electrolyte species beyond their role as proton acceptors. This work provided the understanding needed to further optimize the activity of metal-oxide–based water oxidation catalysts in neutral pHs. Andrew’s mentor is Jagjit Nanda, Energy Storage group leader in the Chemical Sciences Division.

Working in the Energy Storage Group, Chemical Sciences Division, Andrew’s fellowship research will introduce a new type of solid-state electrolyte to the battery research field 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 ongoing research interests include applying synthetic chemistry to problems related to the movement of electrons (quantum particles) and ions (classical particles), which span the fields of energy storage, batteries, catalysis, and quantum information systems. He 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.

2019 Fellows

Friederike Bock, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow, earned her PhD through a joint program of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Heidelberg. Her dissertation focused on heavy ion physics and establishing the point at which the quark-gluon plasma can be seen during heavy nucleus collisions. Friederike’s work established new techniques aimed at reducing uncertainty in collision systems with variable thermal signal strengths. 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’s mentor is Tom Cormier, Relativistic Nuclear Physics group leader in the Physics Division.

Friederike’s fellowship research in the Heavy Ion Reactions Group will focus 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. Her ongoing research interests also include understanding photons from a more phenomenological perspective, thus bridging the gap to theoretical calculations.

Victor Fung, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow, earned his PhD from the University of California–Riverside. His dissertation focused on using computational chemistry techniques to identify the best methods for converting alkanes such as methane and propane into useful industrial feedstocks. His work revealed the catalytic active sites and mechanisms for breaking alkane chemical bonds to deliver the most energy-efficient conversions. Victor’s mentor is Bobby Sumpter, Theory and Computation section head in CNMS.

Victor is based at CNMS’s Nanomaterials Theory Institute. His fellowship research involves developing high-throughput screening techniques that will provide valuable chemical predictions for nanomaterials at a level of accuracy not yet accomplished in current materials databases. Victor will also explore potential chemical/catalytic applications of quantum materials using ORNL-developed Quantum Monte Carlo techniques and ORNL’s Summit supercomputer. His research interests lie at the intersection of probing physical and chemical phenomena such as chemical bonding and developing computational tools that guide scientists to the most promising materials for physical study.

Gang Seob “GS” Jung, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow, earned his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His dissertation focused on developing multiscale models to understand fracture and synthesis processes of 2D materials such as graphene, tungsten disulfide, and molybdenum disulfide. He examined computationally how these materials behave when such 2D crystals structurally fail or form grain boundaries at the atomic level, to understand fundamental mechanisms and continuum-scale properties. GS’ models have effectively explained and predicted 2D material behaviors observed in experiments. His mentor is Stephan Irle, Computational and Nanomaterial group leader in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division (CSED).

In the Computational Chemical and Materials Sciences Group, led by Bobby Sumpter, GS develops integrated multiscale models that enable predictive design and simulation of materials of interest at ORNL. He explores atomic-, mesoscale-, and continuum-scale characteristics of materials to understand how multiscale properties and behaviors define performance. GS’ 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.

Jason Nattress, an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow, earned his PhD from the University of Michigan. His doctoral research, which examined how spectroscopic neutron and photon radiography and delayed neutron signatures could be combined to accurately identify special nuclear material, provided a process map by which an individual could determine whether an unknown material is benign or a nuclear weapon. Jason’s work represented the first instance in which a low-energy, nuclear reaction–based active interrogation source was used to perform dual-mode, multiple-energy transmission radiography. He demonstrated that using neutron and photon transmission radiography in combination achieves higher sensitivity to changes in elemental composition across the periodic table compared to using the two methods individually. Jason’s mentor is Paul Hausladen, a radiation detection researcher and Distinguished Staff Scientist in the Radioisotope Science and Technology Division.

Working in the Radiation Detection and Imaging Group, Jason is developing a combined fast-neutron/gamma-ray radiography system that can distinguish between high‑Z materials and produce 3D tomographic images. His project is expected to provide useful new material identification/inspection techniques to improve scanning times for ocean-going cargo containers. Jason’s research interests include detection techniques for nuclear security and nonproliferation, specifically detection of nuclear materials in transit, development of novel neutron detectors, and neutron and photon spectroscopy.

Joe Paddison, a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow, earned his PhD from the University of Oxford. His dissertation involved using computational modeling techniques to predict 3D scattering data from powder data when crystals of materials under study cannot be derived. Joe’s work showed that unexpected amounts and types of information can be obtained from neutron scattering measurements. His mentor is Andy Christianson, a neutron scattering scientist in the Materials Science and Technology Division.

Joe’s work in the Scattering and Thermophysics Group will focus on using neutron scattering techniques to develop a deeper understanding of the behavior of magnetic materials such as quantum-spin liquids. He aims to explore materials for which the effects of quantum mechanics and crystalline geometry coincide to create new states of matter featuring entangled magnetic states. Joe’s research interests lie at the intersection of neutron scattering, materials’ structure and characteristics, and models of materials’ behavior.

2018 Fellows

Stephanie Galanie, a Liane B. Russell Fellow, received her PhD from Stanford University. Her dissertation focused on synthetic biochemical production of medicinal natural products in yeast. Working in a research team, she combined enzyme discovery, enzyme engineering, and pathway and strain optimization to achieve biosynthesis of opiates, semisynthetic opioids, and other benzylisoquinoline alkaloids in yeast. Prior to her fellowship, she was a scientist at Codexis, a protein engineering biotechnology company. Her mentor is Tim Tschaplinksi, Biodesign and Systems Biology section head in the Biosciences Division.

Stephanie’s fellowship research in the Biosciences Division facilitates 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 will improve our understanding of and increase our ability to enhance sustainability, robustness, and energy utility of organisms and ecosystems. Stephanie’s research interests include biosynthesis, biocatalysis, and natural products.