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A structural model of HgcA, shown in cyan, and HgcB, shown in purple, were created using metagenomic techniques to better understand the transformation of mercury into its toxic form, methylmercury. Photo credit: Connor Cooper/ORNL, U.S. Dept of Energy

A team led by ORNL created a computational model of the proteins responsible for the transformation of mercury to toxic methylmercury, marking a step forward in understanding how the reaction occurs and how mercury cycles through the environment.

Unique imaging capabilities yield new knowledge, growth for bioeconomy

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have a powerful new tool in the quest to produce better plants for biofuels, bioproducts and agriculture.

Joe Hagerman is expanding connected neighborhood research at ORNL and envisions buildings of the future as resources capable of managing the flow and exchange of energy based on economic and market signals – a concept known as transactive energy. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Joe Hagerman, ORNL research lead for buildings integration and controls, understands the impact building technology innovations can have during times of crisis. Over a decade ago, he found himself in the middle of one of the most devastating natural disasters of the century, Hurricane Katrina.

Computational biophysicist Ada Sedova is using experiments and high-performance computing to explore the properties of biological systems and predict their form and function, including research to accelerate drug discovery for COVID-19. Photo credit: Jason Richards, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Ada Sedova’s journey to Oak Ridge National Laboratory has taken her on the path from pre-med studies in college to an accelerated graduate career in mathematics and biophysics and now to the intersection of computational science and biology

Omar Demerdash

With the rise of the global pandemic, Omar Demerdash, a Liane B. Russell Distinguished Staff Fellow at ORNL since 2018, has become laser-focused on potential avenues to COVID-19 therapies.

Ecosystem Ecologist Verity Salmon captures and analyzes field data from sites in in Alaska and Minnesota to inform earth system models that are being used to predict environmental change.

While some of her earth system modeling colleagues at ORNL face challenges such as processor allocation or debugging code, Verity Salmon prepares for mosquito swarms and the possibility of grizzly bears.

Researchers discovered the Tennessee cavesnail, Antrorbis tennesseensis, in caves near Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The snail measures in at less than 2 millimeters long. Credit: Nathaniel Shoobs and Matthew Niemiller

Sometimes conducting big science means discovering a species not much larger than a grain of sand.

Starch granules

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to peer deep into the nanostructure of biomaterials without damaging the sample. This novel technique can confirm structural features in starch, a carbohydrate important in biofuel production.

Examples from the ORNL Overhead Vehicle Dataset, generated with images captured by GRIDSMART cameras. Image: Thomas Karnowski/ORNL

Each year, approximately 6 billion gallons of fuel are wasted as vehicles wait at stop lights or sit in dense traffic with engines idling, according to US Department of Energy estimates.

The students analyzed diatom images like this one to compare wild and genetically modified strains of these organisms. Credit: Alison Pawlicki/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Department of Energy.

Students often participate in internships and receive formal training in their chosen career fields during college, but some pursue professional development opportunities even earlier.