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Ames Lab Scientists' Surprising Discovery: Making Ferromagnets Stronger by Adding Non-Magnetic Element

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory discovered that they could functionalize magnetic materials through a thoroughly unlikely method, by adding amounts of the virtually non-magnetic element scandium to a gadolinium-germanium alloy. It was so unlikely they called it a "counterintuitive experimental finding" in their published work on the research.

Cut U.S. Commercial Building Energy Use 29% with Widespread Controls

The U.S. could slash its energy use by the equivalent of what is currently used by 12 to 15 million Americans if commercial buildings fully used energy-efficiency controls nationwide.

How a Single Chemical Bond Balances Cells Between Life and Death

With SLAC's X-ray laser and synchrotron, scientists measured exactly how much energy goes into keeping a crucial chemical bond from triggering a cell's death spiral.

New Efficient, Low-Temperature Catalyst for Converting Water and CO to Hydrogen Gas and CO2

Scientists have developed a new low-temperature catalyst for producing high-purity hydrogen gas while simultaneously using up carbon monoxide (CO). The discovery could improve the performance of fuel cells that run on hydrogen fuel but can be poisoned by CO.

Study Sheds Light on How Bacterial Organelles Assemble

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and Michigan State University are providing the clearest view yet of an intact bacterial microcompartment, revealing at atomic-level resolution the structure and assembly of the organelle's protein shell. This work can help provide important information for research in bioenergy, pathogenesis, and biotechnology.

A Single Electron's Tiny Leap Sets Off 'Molecular Sunscreen' Response

In experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists were able to see the first step of a process that protects a DNA building block called thymine from sun damage: When it's hit with ultraviolet light, a single electron jumps into a slightly higher orbit around the nucleus of a single oxygen atom.

Researchers Find New Mechanism for Genome Regulation

The same mechanisms that separate mixtures of oil and water may also help the organization of an unusual part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new study by Berkeley Lab researchers. They found that liquid-liquid phase separation helps heterochromatin organize large parts of the genome into specific regions of the nucleus. The work addresses a long-standing question about how DNA functions are organized in space and time, including how genes are silenced or expressed.

The Rise of Giant Viruses

Research reveals that giant viruses acquire genes piecemeal from others, with implications for bioenergy production and environmental cleanup.

Grasses: The Secrets Behind Their Success

Researchers find a grass gene affecting how plants manage water and carbon dioxide that could be useful to growing biofuel crops on marginal land.

SLAC Experiment is First to Decipher Atomic Structure of an Intact Virus with an X-ray Laser

An international team of scientists has for the first time used an X-ray free-electron laser to unravel the structure of an intact virus particle on the atomic level. The method dramatically reduces the amount of virus material required, while also allowing the investigations to be carried out several times faster than before. This opens up entirely new research opportunities.


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Chicago Quantum Exchange to Create Technologically Transformative Ecosystem

The University of Chicago is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to launch an intellectual hub for advancing academic, industrial and governmental efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information.

Department of Energy Awards Six Research Contracts Totaling $258 Million to Accelerate U.S. Supercomputing Technology

Today U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that six leading U.S. technology companies will receive funding from the Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project (ECP) as part of its new PathForward program, accelerating the research necessary to deploy the nation's first exascale supercomputers.

Cynthia Jenks Named Director of Argonne's Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division

Argonne has named Cynthia Jenks the next director of the laboratory's Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division. Jenks currently serves as the assistant director for scientific planning and the director of the Chemical and Biological Sciences Division at Ames Laboratory.

Argonne-Developed Technology for Producing Graphene Wins TechConnect National Innovation Award

A method that significantly cuts the time and cost needed to grow graphene has won a 2017 TechConnect National Innovation Award. This is the second year in a row that a team at Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials has received this award.

Honeywell UOP and Argonne Seek Research Collaborations in Catalysis Under Technologist in Residence Program

Researchers at Argonne are collaborating with Honeywell UOP scientists to explore innovative energy and chemicals production.

Follow the Fantastic Voyage of the ICARUS Neutrino Detector

The ICARUS neutrino detector, born at Gran Sasso National Lab in Italy and refurbished at CERN, will make its way across the sea to Fermilab this summer. Follow along using an interactive map online.

JSA Awards Graduate Fellowships for Research at Jefferson Lab

Jefferson Sciences Associates announced today the award of eight JSA/Jefferson Lab graduate fellowships. The doctoral students will use the fellowships to support their advanced studies at their universities and conduct research at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) - a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear physics laboratory managed and operated by JSA, a joint venture between SURA and PAE Applied Technologies.

Muon Magnet's Moment Has Arrived

On May 31, the 50-foot-wide superconducting electromagnet at the center of the Muon g-2 experiment saw its first beam of muon particles from Fermilab's accelerators, kicking off a three-year effort to measure just what happens to those particles when placed in a stunningly precise magnetic field. The answer could rewrite scientists' picture of the universe and how it works.

Seven Small Businesses to Collaborate with Argonne to Solve Technical Challenges

Seven small businesses have been selected to collaborate with researchers at Argonne to address technical challenges as part of DOE's Small Business Vouchers Program.

JSA Names Charles Perdrisat and Charles Sinclair as Co-Recipients of its 2017 Outstanding Nuclear Physicist Prize

Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, announced today that Charles Perdrisat and Charles Sinclair are the recipients of the 2017 Outstanding Nuclear Physicist Prize. The 2017 JSA Outstanding Nuclear Physicist Award is jointly awarded to Charles Perdrisat for his pioneering implementation of the polarization transfer technique to determine proton elastic form factors, and to Charles Sinclair for his crucial development of polarized electron beam technology, which made such measurements, and many others, possible.


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Oxygen: The Jekyll and Hyde of Biofuels

Scientists are devising ways to protect plants, biofuels and, ultimately, the atmosphere itself from damage caused by an element that sustains life on earth.

The Rise of Giant Viruses

Research reveals that giant viruses acquire genes piecemeal from others, with implications for bioenergy production and environmental cleanup.

Grasses: The Secrets Behind Their Success

Researchers find a grass gene affecting how plants manage water and carbon dioxide that could be useful to growing biofuel crops on marginal land.

New Perspectives Into Arctic Cloud Phases

Teamwork provides insight into complicated cloud processes that are important to potential environmental changes in the Arctic.

Mountaintop Plants and Soils to Become Out of Sync

Plants and soil microbes may be altered by climate warming at different rates and in different ways, meaning vital nutrient patterns could be misaligned.

If a Tree Falls in the Amazon

For the first time, scientists pinpointed how often storms topple trees, helping to predict how changes in Amazonia affect the world.

Turning Waste into Fuels, Microbial Style

A newly discovered metabolic process linking different bacteria in a community could enhance bioenergy production.

Department of Energy Awards Six Research Contracts Totaling $258 Million to Accelerate U.S. Supercomputing Technology

Today U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that six leading U.S. technology companies will receive funding from the Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project (ECP) as part of its new PathForward program, accelerating the research necessary to deploy the nation's first exascale supercomputers.

Electrifying Magnetism

Researchers create materials with controllable electrical and magnetic properties, even at room temperature.

One Step Closer to Practical Fast Charging Batteries

Novel electrode materials have designed pathways for electrons and ions during the charge/discharge cycle.


Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

Article ID: 672640

Released: 2017-04-07 10:05:43

Source Newsroom: Department of Energy, Office of Science

  • Credit: Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

    The Van Nuys High School team that won the 1995 NSB championship: L-R: Coach Art Altschiller, Do Joon Ra, Michael Mazur, Jonathan Kirzner, Michael Chu, and Scott Schneider.

  • Credit: Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kirzner

    Jonathan Kirzner, shown here with his family, is a molecular cell biologist in Los Angeles.

  • Credit: Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kirzner and the LA Dept. of Water and Power

    Jonathan Kirzner, a member of the 1995 Van Nuys High School team that won the National Science Bowl, is profiled

Haiku, hard hats, foam pool noodles, and a four-foot tall trophy, disassembled.

Obviously a group of teenagers were up to something.

Jonathan Kirzner was one of those teenagers, a group of five students representing Van Nuys High School in the 1995 National Science Bowl®. “It was an exciting and emotional experience I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life,” says Kirzner.

He revels in the title “nerd” and loves reminiscing about his friends and their science bowl adventures. “We were a bunch of friends - who tried out for the school’s National Science Bowl® competition. We stuck together and we succeeded,” he recalls. 

They divided up the subject areas for study. Scott Schneider, the team captain, was good in physics, computer science, and math. “He and I are still best friends to this date; Scott was one of my groomsmen at my wedding,” says Kirzner.  Michael Mazur also specialized in physics and enjoyed the pressure of competition.  Do Joon Ra tackled astronomy on his own by reading library books. Michael Chu made a computer program on the school computer network so that they could practice buzzing in.  “So during the competition, once we had enough information, we would buzz in to the questions before they were finished being read.  This secured our chance to get the points and intimidated our opponents.”

Kirzner focused on biology and earth science for the competition.  “I took a college life science textbook and an earth science text book. I studied every day and learned the entire contents - front cover to back.  As practice, I would have people turn to any page in the book and ask me a question on the subject matter.”

After they won their regional competition, the team and coach Art Altshiller headed to Washington, D.C. for the national show-down.

They studied and quizzed each other on the flight. ”We wanted to get as much last-minute studying done as possible.”

Their dedication paid off; the Van Nuys High School team won the 1995 National Science Bowl® championship. 

After the competition, Kirzner and friends met the Secretary of Energy, Hazel O’Leary. Kirzner also had an accomplished seat mate at the awards banquet. “I asked the guy next to me who he was. I had no idea,” recalls Kirzner, “and he said ‘I am Leon Lederman, the head of Fermilab (and Nobel Prize winner in Physics 1988)’ I felt foolish but it was funny.”

About that disassembled trophy… “After Nationals, we had to get our trophy back home to LA. It was huge. We disassembled it to put it in the overhead compartment of the plane.” Upon landing in Los Angeles, the team saw that busloads of their fellow students, the principal, cheerleaders, and their high school marching band were there to greet them. Television and newspaper reporters were also waiting for them.

So they quickly re-assembled the trophy, carried it off the plane, and celebrated with the crowd in the terminal as the band played the school fight song. “They [the media] stuck a microphone in my face and asked, ‘How does it feel?’ I said ‘It feels great!’ We were on the news and in the newspaper.”  

And the hard hats? The haiku and pool noodles? The team’s sponsor, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, had given the team a tour of the department facilities and gave them hard hats with the LADWP logo. Kirzner’s team made good use of those hats. They created a skit for one of the science bowl activities in D.C.

“We incorporated those hard hats into our Science Bowl talent show. We donned our hard hats, along with the pool noodles, recited original haiku, and performed interpretative dances to re-enact seminal experiments in the history of science.” For example, Rutherford’s famous gold-foil experiment was performed as one student rushing at and bouncing off a line of fellow students.

Looking back at his NSB experience, Kirzner says, “It gave me confidence.”

“Every step was amazing: preparing and studying, competing, winning and celebrating our victory. Hitting the buzzer and answering correctly was a dopamine rush to the brain. The results convinced me I could pursue a career in biology.”

Kirzner studied microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles, continued at California State University Northridge, earning his M.S. in biology and becoming a molecular cell biologist.

His advice to students today: “I would tell them that science is fun and that even if you don’t win, it is still exciting to put some extra time in to study.  Not everyone can win. It is fun to study with a team that really supports the other members. Your teammates are counting on you and striving after the same goal. There are a lot of friendships that begin in Science Bowl because it is a team sport.”

 

Please go to Historical Information – National Finals – Profiles of Past Competitors to read more student stories about their NSB experiences.

The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://science.energy.gov.

Sandra Allen McLean is a Communications Specialist in the Office of Science, sandra.mclean@science.doe.gov