Two-time Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) intern and Grinnell College graduate Michael Hewitt was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) as an Outstanding Intern for the research he performed alongside PNNL physical chemist Dr. Grant Johnson.
Hewitt first interned at PNNL as a Visiting Faculty Program intern in the summer of 2018 along with his professor from Grinnell College, Dr. Heriberto Hernandez. Michael interned a second time in 2019 as a Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship participant.
“I was very surprised and excited to be recognized,” said Hewitt. “We accomplished a lot, and this recognition is a great way to close the chapter on the internship.”
His work as an intern focused on using analytical and computational research techniques to study the synthesis of gold nanoclusters, tiny metal particles with highly tunable properties that have applications in energy conversion and storage, as well as chemical manufacturing and separations.
“We aimed to understand how gold clusters form, what special properties they have, and what uses we can apply them to,” said Hewitt. His work was published in two papers, one in the Journal of Physical Chemistry and the other in the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry.
Hewitt, who graduated from Grinnell College in May last year, is now a post-undergraduate intern at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). He said the mentorship he received at PNNL equipped him with the tools and training necessary to be successful in his current role.
“I took my PNNL experiences with me to NREL, where I am working as a computational chemist. My team at NREL collaborates directly with experimental researchers, so my time at PNNL was perfect training,” said Hewitt.
Hewitt was the first one of Johnson’s many interns to receive this recognition from DOE.
“Michael was pretty exceptional; not very many undergraduate interns end up with multiple publications under their name, but Michael ended up with two first author publications and co-authored a third that is currently under review,” said Johnson, “I was very grateful to have him as an intern, and I look forward to seeing what he will do next.”
Dr. Ping Ge, the program manager for WDTS, commented to Michael, “Thank you for helping us to inspire the next generation of scientists to support the mission of the Department of Energy. I wish you continued success in your science and engineering career.”