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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 scientists and engineers, 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.

Riddhi Shah

Graduate student, Neutron Scattering Division
Ph.D. student, Energy Science and Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Bredesen Center)
Hometown: Ahmedabad, India

What are you working on at ORNL?

The goal of my research is to understand polymer interactions and structural changes that occur between the components of the plant cell wall during thermochemical processes. This knowledge would eventually help produce biofuels efficiently. I also design and construct systems mimicking plant cell walls in order to probe polymer interactions that are not easy to study in plant cell walls.

What would you like to do in your career?

My passion has been structural studies on biological systems like plant cell walls, proteins and enzymes and correlation of the structure with its function in order to improve its function or make bioproducts. I would like to continue to be a part of research related to this either in an industrial or academic setting.

Why did you choose a career in science?

My schoolteachers played an important role in shaping my thought process and in making me like science. As I grew older, forming hypotheses and designing experiments to solve science-related problems interested me a lot, and this made me choose a career in science.