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PNNL's Joint Appointment Program Tops 100 with addition of John Eiler of Caltech

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October 31, 2018 Share This!

  • Caltech isotope geochemistry expert John Eiler joins more than 100 scientists with joint appointments at PNNL.

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RICHLAND, Wash. — Internationally recognized isotope geochemistry expert John Eiler, has joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a jointly appointed researcher from the California Institute of Technology. Eiler is a Robert P. Sharp distinguished professor of Geology and Geochemistry, a fellow of multiple international scientific organizations and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Collaborative research between Eiler's team and PNNL promises to have significant impacts in fundamental biology and geochemistry. Eiler's world-renowned expertise in a technique known as "clumped isotopes" combined with PNNL's capabilities in advanced characterization can help reveal the locations of isotopes in molecules of interest. Collaboration between researchers at both institutions will explore application of this type of isotope measurement to PNNL's work in national security to detect illicit substances, such as currently undetectable synthetic drugs, and their origins.

Joint appointments

Eiler joins more than 100 scientists with joint appointments at PNNL. Joint appointments allow PNNL researchers to teach classes, mentor students and conduct research at partner universities. They also enable outside faculty members to gain access to the lab to work with world-class scientific collaborators and unique instrumentation at a Department of Energy national laboratory.

PNNL's 100-plus joint appointments are with 28 universities and one non-profit research institution. They include Washington State University, University of Washington, Oregon State University, University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, University of Illinois, and Brown University. The lab currently has 54 incoming joint appointments and 58 outgoing joint appointments - totaling 112. There were only six joint appointments in 2013.

"By growing these strategic collaborations, we're amplifying our resources, efforts, and impact exponentially," said Malin Young, deputy laboratory director for science and technology at PNNL. "These collaborations can accelerate the pace of scientific achievements."

Joint graduate student programs

Joint appointments are just one facet of PNNL's three-pronged approach to academic partnerships. The lab also pursues joint graduate student programs, like the PNNL - Washington State University Distinguished Graduate Research Program and others. In programs like this, both PNNL scientists and university faculty guide doctoral students as they conduct nationally relevant research at the lab.

"It is an opportunity for future researchers to tap into the knowledge and world-class research infrastructure available at both their university and a national laboratory," said Young.

Joint institutes

The third facet is joint institutes, and the lab launched five of them this year. Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry, and Technology (NW IMPACT) is a joint research collaboration between PNNL and the University of Washington; Precision Medicine Innovation Co-Laboratory (PMedIC) combines the resources and expertise of PNNL and Oregon Health & Science University; and the three institutes with Washington State University join PNNL and WSU researchers for work in bioproducts, advanced grid, and nuclear science and technology.


PNNL LogoPacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on signature capabilities in chemistry, earth sciences, and data analytics to advance scientific discovery and create solutions to the nation's toughest challenges in energy resiliency and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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