Newswise — UPTON, NY—On January 24, 2023, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm honored 44 teams with the Secretary of Energy Achievement Award and five individuals for their work. Among the recipients are Distinguished Professor Esther Takeuchi, a battery researcher with a joint appointment at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University; Douglas Paquette, a hydrogeologist in Brookhaven Lab’s Environmental Protection Division; and Robert Gordon, manager of the DOE-Brookhaven Site Office that oversees operations at Brookhaven Lab.
“These awards are among the highest forms of internal, non-monetary recognition DOE Federal and contractor employees can receive,” Secretary Granholm said in a statement. “They are bestowed on individuals and teams in recognition of service which goes above and beyond, and for contributions having lasting impacts on both DOE and on our great Nation. Along with the entire DOE leadership team, I am so proud of the accomplishments of our award recipients. Their commitment to achieving DOE’s mission is an inspiration.”
Takeuchi was honored for her role on an 80-member team of scientists and support staff from across the DOE National Laboratory complex who facilitated eight virtual panel discussions as part of a Congressional briefing series entitled “Driving U.S. Competitiveness & Innovation: A New Era of Science for Transformative Industry.” The team created a platform for American industry leaders and National Laboratory scientists to speak directly with Congressional staffers. Their goal was to discuss the productivity of public-private collaborations to accelerate emergent technologies and American leadership in artificial intelligence, microelectronics, quantum information sciences, the bioeconomy, and materials and chemistry for clean energy.
This effort highlighted how capabilities at DOE National Laboratories and their User Facilities (including the National Synchrotron Light Source II and Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven Lab) have been used to advance cutting-edge industries and American technical leadership. The discussions also emphasized how partnerships between DOE-supported researchers and American companies can accelerate the Nation’s competitiveness and innovation and address workforce development challenges to prepare for these emergent industries in ways that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I was delighted to participate in the topic of ‘Materials and Chemistry for Clean Energy,’” Takeuchi said. “This forum provided a venue to discuss the opportunity for impact of federally funded research and the national labs in strengthening U.S. industrial competitiveness. My discussions featured energy storage as critical to the clean energy transformation including electrifying transportation and adoption of clean energy generation.”
Paquette and Gordon both served on a team honored for helping DOE formulate a strategy for addressing the impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a class of widely manufactured chemicals that in recent years have been identified as emerging contaminants of concern in many communities across the United States. Historically, they have been widely used in products such as nonstick pans, water-repellent clothing, and firefighting foams.
National focus on PFAS has led to a wide array of Federal and state-level regulatory approaches and policy initiatives. The PFAS Policy Development Team, made up of representatives from multiple DOE offices, coordinated efforts within the DOE and with external stakeholders to better understand and manage the regulations, risks, and liabilities associated with these substances.
This work enabled DOE to gather information about current and past uses of PFAS; develop policies, guidance documents, and educational materials to support more effective efforts to manage PFAS-related liabilities and constructively engage with internal and external stakeholders; and identify research needs and opportunities to support DOE efforts to develop solutions to PFAS challenges. The coordinated efforts of this team have positioned DOE to engage constructively on an issue of high-level national concern in an informed, proactive, and effective manner.
“I am honored to be part of the team that was recognized by the Secretary of Energy,” Paquette said. “Over the past four years, the DOE has been proactive in trying to understand the extent of PFAS contamination resulting from past operations and to prevent any new impacts to the environment.”
The PFAS team recently produced three noteworthy documents including the DOE PFAS Roadmap, the DOE Initial site-by-site PFAS survey, and the DOE Initial PFAS Research and Development Plan. These documents can be found on DOE’s PFAS website at Energy.gov/pfas.
“Each of these documents highlights Brookhaven Lab’s contributions to PFAS R&D solutions, novel approaches to PFAS remediation, and transparency with the community and regulators,” said Gordon. “It’s not a coincidence that Brookhaven Lab is prominent in DOE’s key PFAS documents; it is because of Brookhaven’s recognized expertise, experience, and willingness to serve as a resource across the DOE enterprise.”
Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. 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, visit science.energy.gov.