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    • 2018-04-27 16:45:18
    • Article ID: 693672

    Argonne's Exemplary Student Research Program Inspires Girls to Join the Sciences

    • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

      Researcher Kevin Beyer explained the nuances of Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source to two Aqsa students. Along with 14 other schools, the Aqsa students took part in Argonne’s Exemplary Student Research Program in February.

    • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

      Argonne’s Kevin Beyer (left), Olaf Borkiewicz (back, right) and Kamila Wiaderek (front, right) showed Asqa students and math teacher Ghada Ali how scientists spend their time at the laboratory and the Advanced Photo Source.

    • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

      Argonne assistant chemist, Kamila Wiaderek, helps teens from Aqsa School participating in the Exemplary Student Research Program to prepare a lithium-ion battery experiment. Conducted at the Advanced Photon Source, students use gloveboxes filled with Argon gas to protect materials like lithium from being damaged by the oxygen in the room.

    Eleventh-grader Shadin Zayyad of Hickory Hills, Illinois, was greatly impressed by the multi-million-dollar facilities at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. She visited in February as part of a program meant to encourage young people to work in the sciences.

    “I was beyond awe-inspired by the advanced technology that the scientists use in their experiments,” she said.

    But it was Argonne’s staff who left a lasting impression upon Zayyad and the five students who joined her that day.

    “The most meaningful part of being at Argonne was being surrounded and mentored by inspirational scientists.” — Shadin Zayyad, student at Aqsa School

    “The most meaningful part of being at Argonne was being surrounded and mentored by inspirational scientists,” Zayyad said. “Through this experience, they have truly motivated me to chase after my dreams of becoming a scientist.”

    Zayyad, a student of the Aqsa School, was invited to the laboratory on February 28 through its Exemplary Student Research Program (ESRP). The program allows high school students to work with Argonne scientists to prepare a research proposal, design and carry out an experiment, gather and analyze data and draw conclusions from their work. Roughly 360 students have participated in ESRP since it began seven years ago.

    Aqsa is a private school located in Bridgeview, Illinois, that serves 240 students from pre-K through the 12th grade — and only girls from sixth through 12th grade. Aqsa is one of 15 Chicago-area public and private high schools that joined the program in 2018.

    The visiting students spent the first part of their day at Argonne building lithium-ion batteries at the electrochemistry support laboratory at the Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility. They then tested the batteries using a patented electrochemical cell developed by Argonne scientists, while at the same time collecting X-ray scattering data at beamline 11-ID-B.

    Assistant chemist Kamila Wiaderek, who helped the girls with their project, said the students were more than formidable.

    “They were very enthusiastic and had a lot of fun,” she said. “They were really quite impressive in terms of the questions they asked. Their curiosity was inspiring. They were very driven. Nothing can stop these girls.”

    Eleventh-grader Amatullah Mir, who was riveted by the laboratory's state-of-the-art facility, said she also enjoyed Argonne’s collaborative atmosphere.

    “I was surprised at how open and free the lab was,” said Mir, who plans to continue with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in college. “I was able to ask questions, handle equipment and talk to advisors very freely and openly.”

    Ghada Ali, the students’ math teacher, who organized the ESRP program at the school and who accompanied the students on the trip, said she was thrilled for them to have a chance to expand their learning beyond the classroom.

    “This program was a perfect fit for them,” she said.

    Meridith Bruozas, Manager of Educational Programs and Outreach at Argonne, agrees. “This program illustrates Argonne’s long-term commitment to encourage students to join STEM fields,” said Bruozas. “When students understand the research done at a world-class facility like the Advanced Photon Source, they get inspired to help solve tomorrow’s problems.” 

    The students’ experiment was simple: Each battery they tested contained chemically similar compounds, but the quality of the material varied in each case, ranging from poor-performing to commercial grade.

    The X-ray data that the students collected allowed them to follow changes in the structure of the materials. Such changes were caused by the insertion and removal of the lithium ions into and out of the atomic structure of the materials upon charge and discharge.

    Argonne’s primary objective was for the students to gain a fundamental understanding of basic battery operations while also learning how scientists spend their time at the laboratory.

    “They were able to do everything hands on, including preparing the batteries, placing them on the beamline and recording some early data,” said beamline scientist Olaf Borkiewicz. “They were incredibly smart kids.” 

    Zayyad said she enjoyed learning more about math’s close relationship to science.

    “Our teacher, Ms. Ali, and our mentor scientists at the lab were explaining the logistics behind the magic of X-rays, and I was so surprised to learn how closely linked math and science truly are,” she said. “But the thing I will remember most about this experience is learning from Kamila. I learned so much about her journey and what she has achieved as a strong female scientist. She has inspired me to work hard for the goals I want to reach and taught me that I can achieve anything in STEM.”

    Ali called the battery experiment “an amazing cross-curricular project” that united all branches of STEM education. This was the first year her students participated in ESRP, she said, adding that she has no doubt that the experience encouraged them to seriously consider the sciences.

    “Our students have great potential for working in STEM,” she said, adding that the girls who participated in the program formed “the perfect team.”

    Argonne’s Lou Harnisch, who coordinates the program for 14 additional teams, said that lessons like this provide a unique opportunity for students to build attitudes, knowledge and scientific thinking.

    “I repeatedly see students gain confidence and feel empowered,” he said. “They are building a special connection to the Argonne research community.”

    Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

    The U.S. Department of Energy's 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, visit the Office of Science website.

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    Science Up-Close: Developing a Cookbook for Efficient Fusion Energy

    To develop a future fusion reactor, scientists need to understand how and why plasma in fusion experiments moves into a "high-confinement mode" where particles and heat can't escape. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory simulated the transition into that mode starting from the most basic physics principles.

    Peering into the Mist: How Water Vapor Changes Metal at the Atomic Level

    New insights into molecular-level processes could help prevent corrosion and improve catalytic conversion.

    Neutron science publications reach new highs at ORNL's flagship facilities

    The High Flux Isotope Reactor and the Spallation Neutron Source at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have reached new levels of increased science productivity. In 2018, a record high of more than 500 scientific instrument publications were produced between HFIR and SNS--based on neutron beamline experiments conducted by more than 1,200 US and international researchers who used the world-leading facilities.

    Fiery sighting: A new physics of eruptions that damage fusion experiments

    Feature describes first direct sighting of a trigger for bursts of heat that can disrupt fusion reactions.

    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

    An effect that Einstein helped discover 100 years ago offers new insight into a puzzling magnetic phenomenon

    Experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have seen for the first time what happens when magnetic materials are demagnetized at ultrafast speeds of millionths of a billionth of a second: The atoms on the surface of the material move, much like the iron bar did. The work, done at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser, was published in Nature earlier this month.

    Found: A precise method for determining how waves and particles affect fusion reactions

    Like surfers catching ocean waves, particles within plasma can ride waves oscillating through the plasma during fusion energy experiments. Now a team of physicists led by PPPL has devised a faster method to determine how much this interaction contributes to efficiency loss in tokamaks.

    Discovery adapts natural membrane to make hydrogen fuel from water

    In a recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have combined two membrane-bound protein complexes to perform a complete conversion of water molecules to hydrogen and oxygen.

    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.

    Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy

    How yeast partition carbon into a metabolite may offer insights into boosting production for biofuels.


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    Top 10 Discoveries of 2018

    Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory compiles a list of the biggest advances made by the Lab's staff scientists, engineers, and visiting researchers. From uncovering mysteries of the universe to building better batteries, here, in no particular order, are our picks for the top 10 discoveries of 2018.

    U.S. Department of Energy Announces $33 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will award 189 grants totaling $33 million to 149 small businesses in 32 states.

    DOE to Provide $16 Million for New Research into Atmospheric and Terrestrial Processes

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $16 million for new observational research aimed at improving the accuracy of today's climate and earth system models.

    Machine learning award powers Argonne leadership in engine design

    When attempting to design engines to be more fuel-efficient and emissions-free, automotive manufacturers have to take into account all the complexity inherent in the combustion process.

    ORNL partners with industry to address multiple nuclear technology challenges

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is collaborating with industry on six new projects focused on advancing commercial nuclear energy technologies that offer potential improvements to current nuclear reactors and move new reactor designs closer to deployment.

    Lithium earns honors for three physicists working to bring the energy that powers the sun to Earth

    Feature describes research of three PPPL physicists who have won the laboratory's 2018 outstanding research awards

    DOE approves technical plan and cost estimate to upgrade Argonne facility; Project will create X-rays that illuminate the atomic scale, in 3D

    The U.S. Department of Energy has approved the technical scope, cost estimate and plan of work for an upgrade of the Advanced Photon Source, a major storage-ring X-ray source at Argonne.

    Costas Soukoulis elected to National Academy of Inventors

    Costas Soukoulis, Ames Laboratory senior scientist and Iowa State University Frances M. Craig Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor, has been named as a 2018 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow.

    Biophysicist F. William Studier Elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

    F. William Studier, a Senior Biophysicist Emeritus at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at Stony Brook University, has been elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He is among 148 renowned academic inventors being recognized by NAI for 2018.

    Blast to the future

    A grant from DOE's Technology Commercialization Fund will help researchers at Argonne and industry partners seek improvements to U.S. manufacturing by making discovery and design of new materials more efficient.


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    Rapid Lake Draining on Ice Sheets Changes How Water Moves in Unexpected Ways

    Widespread fracturing during lake drainage triggers vertical shafts to form that affect the Greenland Ice Sheet.

    New Historical Emissions Trends Estimated with the Community Emissions Data System

    The data system will allow for more detailed, consistent, and up-to-date global emissions trends that will aid in understanding aerosol effects.

    Peering into the Mist: How Water Vapor Changes Metal at the Atomic Level

    New insights into molecular-level processes could help prevent corrosion and improve catalytic conversion.

    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

    New Method Knocks Out Yeast Genes with Single-Point Precision

    Researchers can precisely study how different genes affect key properties in a yeast used industrially to produce fuel and chemicals.

    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.

    Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy

    How yeast partition carbon into a metabolite may offer insights into boosting production for biofuels.

    More Designer Peptides, More Possibilities

    A combined experimental and modeling approach contributes to understanding small proteins with potential use in industrial, therapeutic applications.

    Deep Learning for Electron Microscopy

    Artificial intelligence on Summit to discover atomic-scale structures.

    Clarifying Rates of Methylmercury Production

    New model provides more accurate estimates of how fast microbes produce a mercury-based neurotoxin.


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