DOE awards grants to early-career researchers

May 6, 2016

LLNL scientists, Karis McFarlane and Félicie Albert, were among the winners of the prestigious DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program awards. (Download Image)

DOE awards grants to early-career researchers

The Department of Energy on Tuesday named two Lawrence Livermore National Lab scientists among the winners of the prestigious DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program (ECRP) awards, granting them up to $500,000 per year for five years.

Félicie Albert, an experimental plasma physicist at the National Ignition Facility and expert in ultrafast X-ray sources and laser-plasma interactions, won the award for her work in laser-driven X-ray sources for high-energy density science experiments. X-ray sources from laser-plasma accelerators hold promise, Albert said, but so far haven’t been explored much at large-scale laser facilities to probe plasmas under extreme temperature and pressure conditions.

“I am incredibly grateful and honored to have won this award. I cannot think of a better time and place to pursue this project,” Albert said. “The next five years are going to be very exciting. I am looking forward to working with some of the world’s most fascinating lasers, including NIF’s Advanced Radiographic Capability and SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source, which are right around the corner.”

Félicie Albert
LLNL researcher Felicie Albert prepares the Callisto laser system and setup for betatron X-ray experiments at the Lab's Jupiter Laser Facility.

Karis McFarlane, a staff scientist at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, was awarded a five-year grant to study the impact of climate change on carbon cycling in tropical forests. She plans on joining the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics (NGEE-Tropics) project, headed by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, to gather radiocarbon data on soil and tree roots.

“This grant is a career-changer,” McFarlane said. “It’s security in the research I’m doing that allows me to look at things in a larger, more long-term way.”

Staff scientist Karis McFarlane measures soil respiration (CO2 emitted from the soil surface from respiration by roots and soil organisms) at a hardwood forest in Wisconsin for her Laboratory Directed Research & Development project, “Land-Use Impacts on Belowground Carbon Turnover and Ecosystem Carbon Dioxide Source Attribution Using Radiocarbon."

The Early Career Research Program, now in its seventh year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

LLNL researchers have won 15 ECRP awards since its inception in 2010.

This year, 22 of the program’s 49 winners come from DOE national laboratories. Under the program, grants given to lab employees will be at least $500,000 per year over five years to cover year-round salary and research expenses.

“We invest in promising young researchers early in their careers to support lifelong discovery science to fuel the nation’s innovation system,” said Cherry Murray, director of DOE’s Office of Science. “We are proud of the accomplishments these young scientists already have made, and look forward to following their achievements in years to come.”