Si Athena Chen

Neutron Scattering Scientist


Si Athena Chen is a neutron diffraction instrument scientist at the Wide-Angle Neutron Diffractometer (WAND2) in the Neutron Scattering Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In 2016, She received her undergraduate degree in Gemology and Material Science from China University of Geosciences (CUG, Wuhan), China. During her time at CUG, she earned two diplomas from CUG in Gem Diamond Grading and Gem Identification, and a diploma in Gemology from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. In 2021, she received her dual-title Ph.D. degree in Geosciences and Biogeochemistry from Pennsylvania State University, working with Prof. Peter J. Heaney. Following her Ph.D., from Jan. 2022 to Sep. 2023, she worked as a postdoc researcher with Dr. Andrew Stack and Dr. Juliane Weber in the Geochemistry and Interfacial Sciences Group in Chemical Science Division at ORNL. 

Her research interests include understanding crystal nucleation and growth, functional material synthesis and engineering, and crystal structure modeling. Her doctoral work primarily focused on the formation of iron hydroxides in surface environments using operando time-resolved synchrotron X-ray diffraction. With a solid foundation in crystal growth and atomic-level structural analysis, her postdoctoral research aims to comprehend the influence of impurity ions on mineral crystallization using in situ X-ray/neutron scattering and high-resolution chemical imaging techniques.

In addition, she helps early career mineralogists in Mineralogical Society of America by co-chairing early career symposium in the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting since 2021. She served as a Technical Editor for Gems and Gemology (2022-2023) and Research Chair in Oak Ridge Postdoc Association FY2023.


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