November 16, 2022

New Consortium Tackles Students, STEM, and Radiation Studies

Providing a sustainable pipeline between laboratories and underrepresented students

Photo of four men standing in front of canopy.

From left to right, PNNL researchers Manish Sharma, Ryan O’Mara, Cheslan Simpson, and Jonathan Burnett are members of the PaRS  Consortium.

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Advancing the science of radiation, especially among students at minority-serving institutions, is the goal of one of the Department of Energy’s (DOE's) newest consortia.

The Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP) Partnership for Radiation Studies (PaRS) Consortium is led by Alabama A&M University and launched with key members that include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Fisk University, and Savannah River National Laboratory.

Connecting DOE laboratories and students at Minority Serving Institutions

Historically women and minorities have been underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. PaRS is planning to improve those statistics by targeting students at minority serving institutions (MSIs).

With an emphasis on workforce development, the PaRS Consortium members will provide research and training in the discovery and development of radiation detection materials, crystal growth, characterization, and device development.

At PNNL, the PaRS team includes physicists Jonathan Burnett, Cheslan Simpson, Manish Sharma, and Ryan O'Mara. Along with other consortium members, PNNL will provide summer and year-long internships, research collaboration with universities, and student/staff matching with other national laboratories.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Minority Serving Institutions

In addition to the focus on radiation science, another unique aspect of the five-year PaRS Consortium is a new recruitment program called Big Brothers Big Sisters of MSIs.

Scientists, who are part of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s workforce, will present talks to students at K-12 schools, community colleges, and PaRS member universities. They will be sharing their stories to give hope to minority students, especially ones who are uncertain of their success in STEM careers.

“PNNL is committed to student education and increasing minority employment at national laboratories,” said Cheslan Simpson, PNNL senior scientist and team lead. “Having mentored many students, I have seen the positive impact on the lives of undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral researchers. PNNL scientists have a strong history of student mentorship and research achievement.”

The PaRS Consortium is funded by the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program within DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

As a member of the PaRS Consortium, the activities support PNNL’s goals in nuclear nonproliferation and radiation detection research.

Published: November 16, 2022