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Four PNNL scientists elected AAAS fellows

November 29, 2012 Share This!

Three associate lab directors, microscopy expert join the ranks of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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RICHLAND, Wash. – Four Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their efforts to advance science or its applications.

The PNNL honorees and the AAAS sections that elected them are: Nigel Browning, physics; Allison Campbell, chemistry; Anthony Peurrung, physics; and Douglas Ray, chemistry.

The four will be honored at an induction ceremony Feb. 16, 2013 at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston, Mass. The four selections bring the Richland-based Department of Energy national laboratory's total of AAAS fellows to 56.

Nigel Browning

AAAS is honoring Browning for his work in electron microscopy, a type of microscopy that can zoom in to see the features of molecules. Browning has been pushing the limits of electron microscopy and spectroscopy since the early 1990s, when he succeeded in applying new technology to determine the composition of individual planes of atoms — an unexpected feat, given the state of the field at that time.

While at University of California, Davis in 2008, he received an R&D 100 award for developing dynamic transmission electron microscopy, or DTEM. This technology can zoom in on objects as small as a few nanometers big (a few billionths of a meter wide) and can catch a moment in time to reveal what happens over about 15 nanoseconds (15 billionths of a second long). This high resolution in time and space allows researchers to take snapshots of what is happening during chemical reactions, information that usually has to be inferred based on the final product. In one such determination, researchers revealed a never-before-seen chemical intermediate that blew in and out of existence in about 5000 nanoseconds, something they hadn't been able to see before.

Browning joined PNNL in 2011 with a particular goal of making DTEM, which requires the samples to be in a vacuum, work at normal pressures and temperatures. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Reading, United Kingdom in 1988 and a doctorate in physics from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1992.

Allison Campbell

AAAS honored Campbell for her work in the "synthesis of thin films for ceramics and biomaterial development." Trained as a physical chemist, Campbell has been the director of EMSL, a DOE scientific user facility at PNNL, since 2005. As EMSL director, she leads the development of programs, instrumentation and facilities required to tackle problems of interest to DOE and the nation — and brings together scientists from around the world to address those problems. With more than 700 scientists from national labs and universities worldwide using EMSL resources yearly for collaborative research in energy and the environment, Campbell ensures EMSL is influential, innovative and provides unique capabilities to a wide variety of researchers.

Campbell has earned multiple awards for her work in basic science and applied biomedical research. She studied the fundamentals of bone and teeth mineralization and invented a coating that helps artificial joints bond to bone. Her research has resulted in numerous publications, several patents, an Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium and an R&D 100 Award. She has also testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology regarding the value of research at DOE labs.

Campbell earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania in 1985 and a doctorate in chemistry from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1990.

Anthony Peurrung

For contributions to "radiation and nuclear material detection, and leadership in advancing the science and impact of national laboratories," AAAS is honoring Peurrung, an associate laboratory director who oversees PNNL's national security programs. One of his earliest accomplishments was in the field of plasma physics. Soon after he arrived at PNNL, he realized two independent groups of scientists were studying the same physics without realizing it. By bringing together mass spectrometrists and plasma physicists, Peurrung significantly improved the understanding of how ions behave in mass spectrometers — an insight that has led to significant improvements to the technology and a wide variety of applications.

He invented an instrument that can detect buried explosives such as mines by exploiting an energy signature known as "neutron backscatter." Also, he discovered a new way to detect enriched uranium based on the unique radiation signature uranium gives off. Other work helped clarify plutonium oxide's radiation signature, which influenced nuclear arms control technology. After moving into management at PNNL, Peurrung led research to find new materials to better detect radiation. As associate lab director for national security, Peurrung has strengthened PNNL's expertise in cyber security, non-proliferation technologies, nuclear fuels and materials, and explosives detection.

Peurrung earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Rice University in Texas in 1987 and a doctorate in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992.

Douglas Ray

AAAS will induct Ray into its next class for "distinguished contributions to physical chemistry and molecular spectroscopy, and for building a world-class chemistry organization at PNNL." Trained as a laser spectroscopist, Ray's most significant research used lasers and ion beams to determine the structure and dynamics of molecular clusters. For the past decade, he has been leading teams of scientists at PNNL, first as deputy director of EMSL and then as the director of PNNL's Chemical Sciences Division. In chemical sciences, he led the establishment of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis, currently the largest non-industrial catalysis research and development effort in the United States.

In 2006, he became the associate laboratory director for Fundamental & Computational Sciences. In this position, he leads more than 600 scientists in research ranging from earth system science to biological systems science, chemical and materials sciences, applied mathematics and computer science, and nuclear and particle physics focused on DOE's missions. He is especially enthusiastic about developing new tools for research. Current areas of emphasis include chemical imaging and analysis to understand how biological systems function and to understand and control how chemical processes occur, as well as the development of new computational methods to handle the vast amounts of data generated by extreme-scale simulations and new instrumentation.

Ray earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Kalamazoo College Michigan in 1979 and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1985.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.

Tags: Fundamental Science, National Security, EMSL, Awards and Honors, Chemistry

EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, is a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.  Located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., EMSL offers an open, collaborative environment for scientific discovery to researchers around the world. Its integrated computational and experimental resources enable researchers to realize important scientific insights and create new technologies. Follow EMSL on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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