By Allan Brettman
Credit: Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
By Allan Brettman
RICHLAND, Wash.—Six scientists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have been selected to join the Washington State Academy of Sciences.
Deb Gracio, Harry Miley, Wendy Shaw, Wei-Jun Qian, Jie Xiao and Chongmin Wang will join an elite group of scientists and engineers from across the state for their outstanding scientific and technical achievements as well as leadership. Academy members provide expert scientific and engineering analysis to inform public policy making and work to increase the role and visibility of science in Washington state.
The Academy was created in 2005 and consists of more than 300 elected members who are nationally recognized for their scientific and technical expertise. PNNL now has 33 current staff members in the Academy, including the six new inductees.
The PNNL scientists will join a 2022 class of new members composed of 25 newly elected members and five new members from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine who live or work in Washington state. New members will be inducted at the 15th Annual Members’ Meeting on Sept. 15.
“PNNL is proud to partner with the Washington State Academy of Sciences and support its efforts to address critical issues facing our state,” said PNNL Director Steven Ashby. “With the induction of these six accomplished individuals in the class of 2022, we join with other Washington state research institutions in furthering the Academy’s important mission.”
Gracio is Associate Laboratory Director of PNNL’s National Security Directorate. She oversees the laboratory’s national security programs and partnerships portfolio and is responsible for over 1,500 staff members and a $700 million research budget. Under her leadership, PNNL delivers scientific insights, tools, and methods to deploy impactful science and technology to sponsors in the Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the intelligence community. Her data science and advanced computational research have contributed to advances in biology, chemistry, climate change, cyber security, and national security. Long before big data was a popular phrase, she contributed to advances in data-intensive computing by integrating architecture, new algorithms, scalable mathematics, visualizations, and specialized hardware.
Miley is a PNNL senior scientist, Laboratory Fellow, and a global leader in nuclear explosion detection and monitoring. He has led PNNL’s Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Program for more than two decades, as this program produced innovative studies on the science of monitoring radionuclide debris of nuclear weapons. Miley guided the program’s real-time analysis and interpretation of radioactive releases from the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station in 2015. Miley developed the aerosol monitoring technology that provided accurate data about the incident to DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Miley is a key contributor to international safety efforts carried out by the U.S. Delegation to Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Technical Working Group. Miley has presented reports on nuclear explosion treaty verification to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Shaw is Chief Science and Technology Officer in PNNL’s Physical and Computational Sciences Directorate. Her research focuses on learning from and mimicking nature at the intersection of chemistry, biology and materials. Her projects are in two broad areas. These include developing a fundamental understanding of the role of proteins in biomineralization processes as well as designing catalysts for renewable energy that mimic features of enzymes found in nature. Shaw has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers. Last year, she received an Oppenheimer Science and Energy Leadership Program Fellowship for 2020–2021. In 2010, she received a DOE Early Career Research Program grant. She is a Kavli Fellow and serves on review panels for both DOE and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Shaw, who joined PNNL in 2000, also serves on the editorial board of the Biophysical Journal, is an advisory board member for Sustainable Energy & Fuels, and has been an invited panelist for NIH, DOE and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Qian, a laboratory fellow in the Integrative Omics group in the Biological Sciences Division at PNNL, is a bioanalytical chemist who joined the laboratory in 2002. He researches the development of mass-spectrometry-based proteomics approaches for better quantification of protein abundances and protein post-translational modifications. This research has biomedical applications in pancreatic islets, type 1 diabetes and oxidative stress-related disease areas. Qian has received an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Qian is actively involved in training and mentoring postdoctoral researchers and intern students.
Xiao, a materials scientist, is a world leader in electrochemical energy storage. Her work spans fundamental science explorations as well as demonstrations and practical applications vital for a clean energy future. Xiao, who joined PNNL in 2008, is an affiliated professor and a UW-PNNL Distinguished Faculty Fellow in the Materials Science & Engineering Department at the University of Washington. She is Deputy Director of DOE’s Battery500 Consortium, a collaboration among national laboratories, academia, and industry for more reliable, high-performing electrical vehicle batteries. In June, she received the E.O. Lawrence Award from DOE. The award recognizes mid-career scientists who have made exceptional contributions in research and development that support DOE and its mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the nation.
Wang is a materials scientist with the Environmental Transformations and Interactions group in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Division and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory user program. Wang leads a team researching materials for energy science and applications. He is an internationally recognized expert in aberration-corrected high-resolution scanning/transmission electron microscopy imaging, electron energy loss spectroscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. His research focuses on probing the microstructure of materials and chemistry at the atomic scale, especially in energy conversion, storage and sustainability. His innovative work on the development of in situ transmission electron microscopy for electrochemical studies is regarded as one of his most outstanding achievements. This work led to a 2016 Materials Research Society Innovation in Materials Characterization Award, shared with two other researchers, and a 2012 Microscopy Today Innovation Award.
In addition to these six appointments, the Academy announced that Ljiljana Paša-Tolić, the lead scientist for visual proteomics at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory—a DOE national user facility at PNNL—and a laboratory fellow at PNNL, has been elected to its Board of Directors.
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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science. For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL’s News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.