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Record Year for UT Grad Students Earning Awards to Work at National Labs

Four UT graduate students have received Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) awards. This is the highest number of SCGSR awardees UT has had in one year.

SCGSR, a program of the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science, grants supplemental awards to graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields who demonstrate potential for advancing scholarship and innovation in areas critical to the Office of Science’s mission. The goal of the program is to better prepare students for scientific and technical careers.

Since its inception in 2014, the SCGSR program has provided support to more than 370 graduate awardees from more than 120 different universities to conduct thesis research at 18 DOE national laboratories and facilities across the nation. Seventeen of those awards have gone to UT students, making the university a national leader in terms of number of SCGSR awards received.

The award consists of travel expenses to and from the student’s assigned national laboratory and a monthly stipend of up to $3,000 to assist in their graduate thesis research alongside one of the laboratory scientists.

The UT students offered awards are:

Joshua Barrow, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a fourth-year physics doctoral candidate. He will go to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois to study fundamental particle physics and nucleon instability as it applies to the imbalance of matter and antimatter in the universe. “I greatly appreciate the DOE’s support of my own independent endeavors,” he said. “It is reassuring to me that my current and future work is recognized as both interesting and worthwhile to our community’s fundamental physics goals.” Such work, he said, could answer some basic questions about the nature of the universe. Last year, Barrow won a fellowship to model nuclear reactors through the Computational Physics Student Summer Workshop at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He also participates in light dark matter searches at the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and studies short-range nucleon correlations in Experimental Hall C at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.

Bernadette Cladek, of Flemington, New Jersey, a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering and a 2018 Chancellor’s Fellow. While at ORNL, Cladek will seek to help develop methods to analyze complex neutron diffraction. “The integration of advanced computational modeling and data analysis is fundamental to extracting the best quantitative information from neutron experiments,” she said.

Philip Dee, of Cleveland, Ohio, a doctoral candidate in theoretical condensed matter physics. He will work with Thomas Maier, senior research staff in the computational materials science group at ORNL. Their work is aimed at gaining a better understanding of layered material systems, which he hopes will help advance the understanding of these systems while fostering new collaborative opportunities in his field. “Our approach will build on previous theoretical approaches by reintroducing previously neglected details which are important for studying interesting phases such as superconductivity,” he said. Dee was awarded the 2016 James E. Parks Award and 2017 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award by UT’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Andrew Lopez, of Mount Sterling, Kentucky, a doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. While at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), he will run a variety of physics simulations as part of an ongoing project at ORNL to search for neutrinoless double-beta decay, a phenomenon that could change our understanding about how the universe evolved. “It is an honor to be selected for this award. I’m excited to work with the LANL group, a team that I greatly respect,” he said. “I hope to further develop the analysis, programming, and teamwork skills I will need to complete my thesis work and to pursue my career after graduation.” He was recognized with the Extraordinary Professional Promise award at the 2018 Chancellor’s Honors Banquet.

Graduate students interested in applying to the SCGRS program may do so at the Office of Science website. Applications are due by 5 p.m. November 18.

See the complete list of 2018 SCGSR awardees.