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  • PNNL Physicist Wins Presidential Honor
Jul 2006
RICHLAND, Wash., July 27, 2006 -- Materials physicist Yanwen Zhang of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory received the 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) yesterday -- the highest honor bestowed by the US government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.

Zhang.jpgZhang and 55 other recipients were honored by President Bush yesterday and received their awards from John Marburger, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. All recipients were nominated for the presidential award by the federal department or agency with which they are affiliated. For example, Zhang first had to be selected by the Department of Energy (DoE) for its Early Career Scientist and Engineer Award, and was one of seven DoE researchers to receive the presidential award. Other federal departments that nominated recipients include Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Defense, and Health and Human Services.

As a PECASE recipient, Zhang receives a five-year commitment from DoE’s Office of Science to continue funding her research. Zhang developed a novel way of measuring the energy loss of atomic particles as they pass through materials. Accurate measurements of such energy loss were a long-standing problem until Zhang successfully used high-resolution, time-of-flight spectroscopy to determine energy loss over a continuous range of energies. Because energy loss of high-energy particles is fundamental to irradiation effects, radiation detection and electronic device manufacturing, Zhang’s discoveries have potential applications in nuclear power, national security, nuclear waste management and energy-efficient electronics.

Zhang, whose research is supported by DoE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, is a staff scientist in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a scientific user facility at PNNL. She holds two doctorate degrees, one in engineering physics from Lund University in Sweden and another in science from Beijing Normal University in China.

Other 2005 PECASE recipients include: Daniel W. Bardayan of Oak Ridge National Laboratory for his innovative precision nuclear spectroscopy measurements clarifying the production of elements and radioisotopes in exploding stars; Wendelin Wright of Stanford University for her research into the deformation and failure of metals and polymers under dynamic loading using high-speed and spatially-resolved infrared temperature measurements; Michael S. Strano of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for addressing key technical challenges in the manipulation and control of carbon nanotube structures, enabling new applications in a wide variety of sensors, including medical devices; and Aravinthan D. Samuel of Harvard University for his studies of the neural system of the roundworm using a variety of methods, including ultrafast lasers, to perform "neuronanosurgery." His goal is to ultimately improve mankind's understanding of the neural systems of more complex organisms.

The scientists were also all cited for their mentoring abilities and collaborative work with other researchers.

For a complete list of 2005 PECASE recipients, visit:

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