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Chemistry Researcher Dr. Andrew Gaunt Receives Early Career Award

Grants to support innovation in basic science, energy security, climate change

Dr. Andrew Gaunt is one of five Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have been awarded five-year research grants under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act through the U.S. Department of Energy's prestigious Office of Science Early Career Research Program, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced recently. The awards represent a significant investment of Recovery Act funding to bolster the nation's scientific workforce.

Andrew Gaunt, Christopher Mauger, Nathan G. McDowell, Evgenya Smirnova, and Tsuyoshi Tajima of Los Alamos were among 69 early-career scientists selected to receive a share of $85 million in funding under ARRA. According to DOE, the new effort 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. For the next five years, the five laboratory employees will receive at least $500,000 a year to cover their annual salaries and research expenses.

More than 1,750 of the nation's top early-career researchers applied for the funding. A panel of independent, external scientific experts selected the 69 nationwide winners.

"Los Alamos National Laboratory received more early-career awards than any other institution," said Terry Wallace, principal associate director for Science, Technology, and Engineering. "This is a tribute not only to the outstanding young staff, but also to the core capability of the Laboratory-delivering outstanding science in service to the nation."

Dr. Gaunt works in LANL's Inorganic, Isotope, and Actinide Chemistry Group. The title of his project is "Molecular Transuranic Discovery Science: Underpinning National Energy Security and Waste Remediation Needs." Gaunt plans to investigate the interactions of "soft donor" extractant molecules to separate actinides from lanthanides. Gaining a more complete understanding of fundamental chemical bonding properties of relevant actinide ions is essential for rational molecular design to develop efficient separation strategies for advanced nuclear fuel cycles. Gaunt came to LANL as a Seaborg Postdoctoral Fellow, and has been a LANL staff member since 2007.

January 2010

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