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PNNL names new 'post-doc' program after noted Northwest chemist Linus Pauling

Michigan, German university graduates named Pauling Fellows

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July 07, 2010 Share This!

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RICHLAND, Washington — Linus Pauling was a Northwest original who influenced several generations of chemists and biologists.  Now, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is naming its recently-created Distinguished Post-Doctoral Fellowship program after the man who is the only person to win unshared Nobel Prizes in two different fields. 

The Department of Energy laboratory also named Susan Wiedner from the University of Michigan and Marcel Baer from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany as the second pair of Pauling Fellows.

The fellowship program was created in 2009 to attract outstanding young post-doctoral researchers to PNNL where they conduct research that will lead to advancements in basic science, energy, the environment or national security. 

"The laboratory is pleased to name its distinguished postdoctoral research program after Linus Pauling — and we appreciate his family's permission to do so.  Pauling was one of the past century's greatest scientific minds," said Steven Ashby, deputy director for science and technology at PNNL.  "Our expectation is that the young researchers selected for this prestigious program will mature into the great scientists of the 21st century."

A "post-doc" is a researcher who has earned their doctoral degree but is still involved in academic study.  They typically are hired for two or three year assignments and sometimes are hired to work at the place they conducted their post-doctoral work after their assignment is complete.  At any one time, PNNL typically has about 165 post-doctoral researchers on its Richland campus. 

Researchers chosen to be Pauling Fellows receive active mentoring by PNNL scientists and are equipped with resources to carry out a research program of their own design.  They receive full funding to pursue a major research project as well as opportunities to attend top scientific conferences.

Pauling was born in 1901 in Portland, and grew up in Condon and Portland, Oregon.  He graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis — now known as Oregon State University — in 1922.  He is widely considered one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century and one of the greatest chemists of all time.  His studies on sickle cell anemia helped create the field of molecular biology, which has transformed the biological sciences and medicine and provided the base for biotechnology.  He founded the science of orthomolecular medicine, which is based on the idea that diseases result from chemical imbalances and can be cured by restoring proper levels of chemical substances.

Wiedner and Baer were selected after a highly-competitive process that included presentations of independent research proposals.  They will start their work at PNNL this summer.

Grant Johnson of Pennsylvania State University and Xiao Lin, a Humboldt Fellow at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, Germany, were named the first two distinguished post-doctoral fellows in fall of 2009. 

The application process for 2011 Linus Pauling Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowships will open on Sept. 1, 2010.  Applications are due no later than December 15, 2010.  For more information visit the program's website at

Tags: Energy, Environment, Fundamental Science, National Security, Awards and Honors

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