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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory physicist wins presidential honor

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July 26, 2006 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. — Yanwen Zhang, a materials physicist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, today received the 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers -- the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Zhang and 55 other recipients were honored by President Bush earlier today and received their awards from John Marburger, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

To be eligible for the presidential award, Zhang first had to be selected by the Department of Energy for its Early Career Scientist and Engineer Award. As a PECASE recipient, Zhang receives a commitment from DOE’s Office of Science to continue funding the research for which the award was given for five years.

Zhang’s research focuses on interactions of energetic ions with solid materials and how those interactions can be applied to the analysis and study of those materials. Zhang developed a novel way of measuring the energy loss of atomic particles as they pass through materials. Accurate measurements of such energy loss were a long-standing problem until Zhang successfully used high-resolution, time-of-flight spectroscopy to determine energy loss over a continuous range of energies.

Because energy loss of high-energy particles is fundamental to irradiation effects, radiation detection, and electronic device manufacturing, Zhang’s discoveries have potential applications in nuclear power, national security, nuclear waste management and energy efficient electronics. Zhang, whose research is supported by DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, is a staff scientist in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a scientific user facility at PNNL.

The presidential award embodies the high priority placed by the government on maintaining the leadership position of the United States in science by producing outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance science and the missions important to participating agencies, such as DOE.

The award also recognizes scientists and engineers who show exceptional potential for leadership in scholarship, service and education.

With more than 100 publications and several long-term international research collaborations, Zhang is recognized for her contributions in ion-solid interactions, irradiation effects and ion beam techniques. She also is active in several professional societies, has received many international scientific and academic awards and is involved in educational activities and community service.

She routinely hosts visiting scientists at EMSL’s ion-beam user facility, lectures on topics related to ion beam physics, mentors post doctoral fellows, graduate students, summer undergraduates and high school interns, serves on Ph.D. committees, assists local middle schools with Chinese translations, and serves as a judge for local science fairs.

Zhang holds two doctorate degrees – one in engineering physics from Lund University in Sweden and another in science from Beijing Normal University in China.

Tags: Energy, National Security, EMSL, Nuclear Power, Radiation Detection

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