August 1, 2023

Six U.S. Graduate Students Join PNNL for DOE’s Prestigious Program

Graduate students from across the nation to conduct thesis research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

SCGSR Hero Image July 2022

SCGSR students join PNNL.

(Image: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program matched six students to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The SCGSR program prepares graduate students to enter careers of critical importance to the DOE mission by providing supplemental funds and opportunities to conduct their thesis research in state-of-the-art facilities at DOE national laboratories.  

This award cycle, 87 students from universities across the nation were selected for the program. The SCGSR awardees joining PNNL are:

  • Alex von Rueden, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chemical Engineering
  • Nahin Ferdousi-Rokib, University of Maryland, College Park, Chemical Engineering
  • Lili Rassouli, University at Buffalo, Biological Engineering
  • Riley Barton, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Geology
  • Christine Burgan, University of Louisville, Chemistry
  • Dustin Broderick, Ohio State University, Computational Chemistry

“I had the great opportunity to visit PNNL in the summer of 2022 and work alongside my host, Computational Scientist Mal-Soon Lee, and the rest of her team. I was interested in the SCGSR program because it would uniquely enable me to work toward my PhD while continuing to collaborate with Lee and learn from PNNL experts in my research area,” said von Rueden.

SCGSR students are each paired with a collaborating DOE laboratory scientist. Scientists provide mentorship and guidance while the students carry out their research proposals. Earth Scientist Laura Fierce, Chemist Kevin Rosso, Biogeochemist Allison Myers-Pigg, Chemist John Linehan, and Physicist Chris Mundy will also mentor a student aligned with their research mission area.

The students are exploring atmospheric system research, data and computational sciences for materials and chemical sciences, environmental system science, basic science for clean energy and decarbonization, and fundamental electrochemistry for chemical and materials sciences. 

“I have dreamt of doing research within the DOE because of the organization's range of knowledge, technology, and groundbreaking research in aerosols,” said Ferdousi-Rokib. “I met Dr. Fierce at an American Association for Aerosol Research conference, and we discussed how my research could potentially help the DOE expand its knowledge on cloud models. It really solidified my desire to join the SCGSR program.”

Ferdousi-Rokib’s research focuses on reducing the uncertainty of climate change projections. “I want to help create more accurate predictions to help inform international and federal regulations so we can help save communities affected by the climate crisis, such as my family's home country of Bangladesh that is currently feeling the devastating impacts.”

“In light of the escalating energy demands, the depletion of finite fossil fuel reserves, and the pressing environmental challenges posed by greenhouse gas emissions, my primary research interest lies in addressing these real-world energy issues,” said Rassouli. “By delving into sustainable and clean energy sources, we can pave the way for a brighter future for both the environment and humanity. I am particularly drawn to energy-related computational studies, as they offer a powerful means to explore and discover innovative materials and solutions that can effectively harness and apply green energy resources.”

These SCGSR awardees are helping solve complex issues and using their experience to learn from, as well as offer new insight and ideas, to teams at PNNL meeting similar challenges. As an SCGSR participant, Burgan noted, “Science is best when it is collaborative!”

The SCGSR program is sponsored and managed by the DOE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS), in collaboration with the six Office of Science research programs, two R&D and production programs, and the DOE national laboratories and facilities.