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Yanwen Zhang

In the search to create materials that can withstand extreme radiation, Yanwen Zhang, a researcher at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, says that materials scientists must think outside the box.

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.

Prospecting for deformations in exotic isotopes of ruthenium and molybdenum, Allmond found they displayed a deflated-football morphology. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

In the Physics Division of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, James (“Mitch”) Allmond conducts experiments and uses theoretical models to advance our understanding of the structure of atomic nuclei, which are made of various combinations of protons and neutrons (nucleons).

Kat Royston

As a teenager, Kat Royston had a lot of questions. Then an advanced-placement class in physics convinced her all the answers were out there.

Scanning probe microscopes use an atom-sharp tip—only a few nanometers thick—to image materials on a nanometer length scale. The probe tip, invisible to the eye, is attached to a cantilever (pictured) that moves across material surfaces like the tone arm on a record player. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory; U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Liam Collins was drawn to study physics to understand “hidden things” and honed his expertise in microscopy so that he could bring them to light.

Elizabeth Herndon takes a soil sample at a field site outside Abisko, Sweden in July 2019.

Elizabeth Herndon believes in going the distance whether she is preparing to compete in the 2020 Olympic marathon trials or examining how metals move through the environment as a geochemist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

To develop complex materials with superior properties, Vera Bocharova uses diverse methods including broadband dielectric spectroscopy. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy; photographer Jason Richards

Vera Bocharova at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory investigates the structure and dynamics of soft materials—polymer nanocomposites, polymer electrolytes and biological macromolecules—to advance materials and technologies for energy, medicine and other applications.

ORNL astrophysicist Raph Hix models the inner workings of supernovae on the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

More than 1800 years ago, Chinese astronomers puzzled over the sudden appearance of a bright “guest star” in the sky, unaware that they were witnessing the cosmic forge of a supernova, an event repeated countless times scattered across the universe.

Natalie Griffiths kneading in watershed at ORNL

Growing up, Natalie Griffiths dreamed of playing shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays. With a stint on the Canadian national women’s baseball team under her belt, Griffiths has retired her glove and now fields scientific questions about carbon and nutrient cycling and water quality ...

Leah Broussard leads a study of neutron decay to understand correlations between electrons and antineutrinos as well as subtle distortions in the electron energy spectrum.

Leah Broussard, a physicist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has so much fun exploring the neutron that she alternates between calling it her “laboratory” and “playground” for understanding the universe. “The neutron is special,” she said of the sub...