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Skutnik, Szynkiewicz win Powe Award

(From left to right) Veerle Keppens, College of Engineering  Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs; Wes Hines, Nuclear Engineering Department Head; Steven Skutnik; Larry McKay, Department Head, Earth & Planetary Sciences; Anna Szynkiewicz; Chancellor Jimmy Cheek; Taylor Eighmy, Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement.

(From left to right) Veerle Keppens, College of Engineering Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs; Wes Hines, Nuclear Engineering Department Head; Steven Skutnik; Larry McKay, Department Head, Earth & Planetary Sciences; Anna Szynkiewicz; Chancellor Jimmy Cheek; Taylor Eighmy, Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement.

On September 12, 2014,  Chancellor Jimmy Cheek presented plaques to Dr. Steven Skutnik, assistant professor of Nuclear Engineering, and Dr. Anna Szynkiewicz, assistant professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences, as recipients of the 2014 Ralph Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

Skutnik plans on using the award to support his graduate student, Matt Cook, as he continues his work simulating the Hybrid K-Edge Densitometer (HKED) instrument at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to investigate whether this technique could be applied to safeguards for advanced nuclear fuel recycling techniques.

“One of the major impacts of this award has been to enable to me to disseminate these research results more widely and thereby expand my network of potential collaborators earlier on within my career, thereby allowing me to better develop this part of my research agenda,” said Skutnik.

Szynciewicz will use the award to investigate how hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) affects groundwater quality in the Appalachian basin of Southeast Kentucky.

“I am very pleased to receive this award because it supports the master thesis of my graduate student St. Thomas LeDoux who actually initiated this research in my laboratory and got me interested in hydraulic fracturing,” said Szynciewicz. “Also, it is a great opportunity to start new research project in the University of Tennessee and new collaboration with Melanie Mayes in Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”

The Powe award is given competitively to early-career researchers at member universities by ORAU. The Office of Research and Engagement matches the $5,000 award from ORAU.