September 21, 2022
Staff Accomplishment

University of Utah Joins IDREAM EFRC Institutional Partners

New leadership roles announced for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Colorado State University, and University of Washington researchers

Three circles, each showing a different molecular structure, represents IDREAM research. The parter institutions are listed across the bottom.

Since August 2016, the Interfacial Dynamics in Radioactive Environments and Materials (IDREAM) Energy Frontier Research Center has created a transformative new understanding of key aspects of aluminum chemistry in highly alkaline electrolytes and the influence of ionizing radiation. Our work has resulted in key breakthroughs and is directly challenging long-held beliefs and surmounting barriers through our integrated computational and multi-modal experimental approaches.

(Image by Nathan Johnson | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

The University of Utah has joined the Interfacial Dynamics in Radioactive Environments and Materials (IDREAM) Energy Frontier Research Center as an institutional partner.

IDREAM is a partnership of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Washington, and now the University of Utah. This PNNL-led team of interdisciplinary researchers explores the complex chemistry related to retrieving and processing high-level radioactive waste at the Department of Energy's (DOE’s) Hanford and Savannah River sites.

IDREAM researchers also seek to resolve knowledge gaps that have perplexed industrial aluminum process chemists for more than a century. It is one of 41 EFRCs stewarded by the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program in the DOE Office of Science.

Aurora Clark is a University of Utah professor. She has a big smile, glasses, shoulder-length brown curly hair and is wearing a white sleeveless dress.
Aurora Clark leads IDREAM's New Computational Tools and Theory Cross-Cut Team. (Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

One of IDREAM’s founding researchers, chemist Aurora Clark, transitioned this summer from Washington State University (WSU) to the University of Utah. Clark also is a PNNL laboratory fellow and a national leader in separations science. At the University of Utah, her computational chemistry research team collaborates with IDREAM partners on predicting and interpreting spectroscopic and scattering profiles of concentrated electrolytes.

WSU was an IDREAM institutional partner from the EFRC’s 2016 inception through July 2022. Collaborative research with WSU will continue, IDREAM Director Carolyn Pearce said.

“Our partnership with WSU has been hugely impactful for IDREAM, and many of our Early Career Network researchers are former WSU students and postdocs,” Pearce said. “We will continue our collaboration through our joint appointments and the WSU-PNNL Nuclear Science and Technology Institute.”

Several new leadership roles were also recently announced:

  • Cynthia Jenks has joined the Governing Board. She is the associate laboratory director for physical sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). She replaces Phillip Britt, who worked with IDREAM since it began in 2016—serving on the Science Advisory Board and then the Governing Board—and who recently retired from ORNL.
Cynthia Jenks is a research leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Cynthia Jenks serves on the IDREAM Governing Board. (Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)
  • Nancy Levinger is now the chair of the Science Advisory Board. Levinger, a chemistry professor at Colorado State University, leads the group in providing guidance to IDREAM leadership on transformative opportunities. The outgoing chair and IDREAM’s founding director, Sue Clark, with Savannah River National Laboratory, remains on the Science Advisory Board.
Nancy Levinger is a Colorado State University professor.
Nancy Levinger chairs the IDREAM Science Advisory Board. (Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
  • Lixin Lu, a graduate student at the University of Washington, is now the IDREAM representative on the DOE-BES EFRC Early Career Network. Emily Nienhuis, a PNNL postdoctoral research associate, completed her two-year term in that national role and continues as chair of IDREAM’s Early Career Network.
Lixin Lu is a graduate student at the University of Washington.
Lixin Lu is an IDREAM Early Career Network leader. (Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)