Prestigious fellowships awarded to promising early-career researchers.

Newswise — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has awarded its newest cohort of named fellowships, providing five early-career scientists with additional support as they pursue pivotal discoveries that will make Americans safer and better off and increase our understanding of the universe.

For 2024, the laboratory has named three Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellows and two Walter Massey Fellows. Maria Goeppert Mayer was a pioneering nuclear physicist who received the 1963 Nobel Prize in physics for discovering, at Argonne, the shell model of the atomic nucleus. Walter Massey is a leading African American scientist and executive who served as Argonne’s director in the 1980s and has served as the president of Morehouse College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

The Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellows are Chiara Bissolotti, Tanjin He and Elliot Kisiel. The Walter Massey Fellows are Cailin Buchanan and Christian White.

“At Argonne, aspiring researchers find an unparalleled launchpad for their careers. With its forefront position in the scientific community and cutting-edge facilities, Argonne provides an exceptional environment for promising early-career scientists to begin their research journeys. The contributions of our new fellows will bolster our efforts to drive important discoveries, advancing the science that safeguards U.S. prosperity and security,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns.

Chiara Bissolotti is a postdoctoral researcher in Argonne’s High Energy Physics division. She received her Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics from the University of Pavia in 2021, focusing on the 3D momentum structure of the proton. During graduate school, she was awarded the Electron-Ion Collider Fellowship from the Jefferson Lab Electron-Ion Collider Theory Center. As a postdoc, she shifted from nuclear physics research to high energy physics. Currently, at Argonne, she delves into physics beyond the Standard Model, which explains how all the known particles interact.  

As a Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellow, Bissolotti plans to use and develop artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) methods to perform searches for signatures of Beyond Standard Model (BSM) physics in the massive data sets that are produced by particle accelerator facilities worldwide, with a focus on U.S. facilities such as Jefferson Lab and the Electron-Ion Collider under development at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory.

This project will be trailblazing, adopting an unprecedented, unbiased method in BSM physics analysis by employing AI/ML to process collider data at the event level. This method will eliminate reliance on conventional assumptions that restrict discovery.

Tanjin He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from that university in 2023. His research primarily focuses on AI for materials science. He uses natural language processing to distill scientific knowledge automatically from various sources, including journal articles and patents. Through big-data-driven analysis and physics-based explainable ML, he develops predictive algorithms for the rational design and autonomous synthesis of advanced materials with many applications. In the past, he has used this approach to create an AI-based method to guide high-throughput materials synthesis in an autonomous discovery lab.

As a Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellow working in the Data Science and Learning division, he proposes to accelerate the discovery of energy-related materials by leveraging large language models, multimodal learning and Argonne’s Aurora supercomputer in a DOE Office of Science user facility. The aim is to transform the vast, unstructured knowledge from numerous materials science publications into an accessible, AI-ready database. This comprehensive database will be enriched with critical processing, structural and property data. It will be able to unlock new AI-driven avenues for reverse design and multi-purpose decision-making in developing high-performance energy materials for a more sustainable future.

Elliot Kisiel is a Ph.D. student in physics at the University of California, San Diego, focusing on experimental condensed matter. His research includes using synchrotron sources to study transition metal oxide systems, specifically those that have the potential to enable neuromorphic computing, the next generation in high performance computing. Using dark-field X-ray microscopy (DFXM) at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science user facility, Kisiel was able to investigate vanadate and magnetite materials.

As a Maria Goppert Mayer Fellow working in the X-ray Science division, Kisiel’s research will focus on utilizing the improved coherence from the recently upgraded APS to image spatial distributions of complex systems through the development of coherence-enhanced DFXM. The development and expansion of this technique will permit large spatial studies of quantum phenomena in bulk materials not accessible via other microscopy methods.

Cailin Buchanan is a chemical engineer studying fundamental electrochemistry, applied battery testing and technoeconomic and life cycle assessment for electrochemical systems. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Argonne’s Materials Science division, researching the fundamental mechanisms driving the performance of lead-acid batteries. Cailin completed her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan in 2022, where she studied the kinetic and thermodynamic behavior of the cerium redox couple, as well as its feasibility for redox flow batteries (RFBs), a next generation battery beyond lithium-ion.

As a Walter Massey Fellow, Buchanan plans to investigate organic RFBs, which are a promising alternative to the state-of-the-art vanadium RFB because they consist of earth abundant materials. However, there are challenges in optimizing organic RFB properties that are critical to battery performance and cost. Also, the effect of the electrolyte on these properties is not well understood. Buchanan is proposing to use an autonomous discovery platform to screen a large array of supporting electrolytes for different commercial redox-active molecules. Her proposed research combines fundamental electrochemistry, applied testing, and technoeconomic and life-cycle assessments into one cross-cutting research program that will reveal electrolyte structure-function relationships and advance organic RFBs to meet long-duration targets for energy storage.

Christian White is a postdoctoral researcher in the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Environmental Science division. He received his Ph.D. in 2023 in environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation research was centered around the elucidation of microbial interactions in anaerobic ammonium oxidizing systems for nitrogen removal from wastewater. His broader research interests include engineered and natural treatment systems for wastewater treatment, novel isotopic techniques to investigate biogeochemical cycling and trait-based modeling frameworks to predict microbially mediated ecosystem functioning.

As a Walter Massey Fellow working in the Environmental Science division, White’s research will be centered around the use of novel isotopic methods to examine the effects of seasonal hydrological regimes on carbon cycling in wetlands. Wetlands serve as a critical repository for carbon storage and mediate a variety of hydrogeological, biogeochemical and geophysical processes that have broad implications for ecosystem health and services. This includes surface water and groundwater provisioning, biodiversity support and the remediation of anthropogenic pollutants. White will endeavor to characterize and examine the functionality of microbial communities mediating the transfer of carbon between atmospheric, hydrospheric and lithospheric reservoirs through in situ molecular methods and trait-based modeling.

“These fellows are pushing science to new frontiers,” said Sean L. Jones, Argonne deputy laboratory director for science and technology. ​“Their research will lead to pivotal discoveries that will address some of the most important scientific questions facing society.” 

The fellowships are funded by Argonne’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development program.

About the Advanced Photon Source

The U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s most productive X-ray light source facilities. The APS provides high-brightness X-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, the life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are ideally suited for explorations of materials and biological structures; elemental distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems from batteries to fuel injector sprays, all of which are the foundations of our nation’s economic, technological, and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use the APS to produce over 2,000 publications detailing impactful discoveries, and solve more vital biological protein structures than users of any other X-ray light source research facility. APS scientists and engineers innovate technology that is at the heart of advancing accelerator and light-source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce extreme-brightness X-rays prized by researchers, lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with samples being studied, and software that gathers and manages the massive quantity of data resulting from discovery research at the APS.

This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. DOE Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology by conducting leading-edge basic and applied research in virtually every scientific discipline. 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 https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.