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Recognizing exceptional researchers, inventors and technicians

September 3, 2020

By Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho National Laboratory celebrated extraordinary talents and novel achievements with the 2015 Research and Development Awards Ceremony. The February occasion marked the 20th year for the annual event, which showcased key accomplishments that supported INL’s mission.

The event recognized 27 patent awards and seven software copyright assertions, crediting 82 patent inventors and 35 copyright authors. The efforts to advance and license technologies created at INL paid dividends for the inventors, the laboratory and the nation. Read the full ceremony program here.

INL’s Hall of Fame inducted five new members who reached the five-patent milestone this year: Douglas Few, David Crandall, R. Scott Herbst, Steven Herrmann and W.D. Swank. Two researchers achieved the 15-patent milestone; Robert Fox (2009 and 2010 Inventor of the Year) and Dale Kotter. Only five years after being inducted to the Hall of Fame, INL Fellow and winner of the 2007 Inventor of the Year award, William Apel, reached the 20-patent milestone by adding four new patents to his record. Apel is the fourth INL researcher to earn this distinction since the Hall of Fame’s inception in 2002.

Lifetime Achievement Award winners (Left to right): W.D. Swank, Steven D. Herrmann, Douglas A. Few, David L. Crandall

INL’s awards for outstanding papers recognized researchers who published excellent peer-reviewed journal articles based on technical merit, contribution and presentation quality.  Travis Grimes, Peter Zalupski (2011 Early Career Exceptional Achievement winner) and Leigh Martin (2008 Early Career Exceptional Achievement winner) were awarded the Outstanding Paper by Early Career Scientist or Engineer. Aaron Wilson (2013 Early Career Exceptional Achievement winner) and Christopher Orme  were recognized with the Outstanding Scientific Paper award. The Lifetime Achievement Award for an INL Author recognizes researchers who publish 75 or more peer-reviewed journal articles. INL Fellow David Petti, received this award for his work in the fields of nuclear fuels, advanced nuclear reactor technologies, fusion nuclear technologies and light water reactor safety.

David Hurley and Robert Schley earned the Outstanding Innovation Award for inventing a new type of microscope, called a Thermal Conductivity Microscope. The Outstanding Impact Award was presented to Nikki Rasmussen, William Fuger (2010 Technician of the Year), James Schondel, Margy Blackburn and Ryan Buxton for a technically challenging life-saving project for the military.

This year’s Early Career Exceptional Achievement award was awarded to Assel Aitkaliyeva. After a yearlong INL fellowship in 2011, Aitkaliyeva joined INL full time in 2012 as the technical lead for the Nuclear Science User Facilities. Over the course of her career, she has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed journal publications, six of which were based on her INL research. She is widely sought after as an advisor by domestic and international laboratories. As a principal investigator, Aitkaliyeva has secured more than $3.2 million in research funding for her work.

Assel Aitkaliyeva receives the Early Career Exceptional Achievement award from lab director, Mark Peters.

The Exceptional Engineering Achievement award was presented to INL Fellow Steven Hayes. For more than 20 years, Hayes has led research developing, testing and modeling of a variety of nuclear fuels, first at Argonne-West then joining INL at its inception. He led fuels and materials irradiation experiments in Experimental Breeder Reactor-II prior to its shutdown, and today he maintains and active fuel testing program in the Advanced Test Reactor. Hayes is the author or co-author of more than 25 journal articles and 100 conference papers related to nuclear fuel performance. He has been awarded a patent for an innovative nuclear fuel design enabling the enhanced destruction of plutonium.

Jian Gan was honored with the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award for his research into microstructural investigation of nuclear fuels and reactor core structural materials. His work includes the development of a reactor temperature measurement sensor, reactor cladding failure analysis, and weld development of cladding for accident-tolerant reactor fuels. Gan has authored or co-authored 90 publications in journals or conference proceedings and has more than 22 years of research experience.

The Individual Lifetime Achievement in Science and Technology award was presented to INL Fellow Jack Law, the manager of the Aqueous Separations and Radiochemistry Department at INL. Throughout his 31-year INL career, he has developed advanced separation processes for the recycling of used nuclear fuel and highly radioactive tank wastes, including testing novel separation equipment and demonstrating numerous solvent extraction processes using actual and simulated waste solutions. He spent several years as the lead test engineer for the Liquid Effluent Treatment and Disposal Facility startup at INTEC. Law is currently the assistant technical program chair for the 2016 ANS Annual Meeting and the ex-officio chair of the Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division. He has been awarded 10 U.S. patents, three Russian patents, the 2013 Department of Energy’s Secretary’s Achievement Award, and has published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and eight book chapters.

INL Fellow, Jack Law, receiving the Individual Lifetime Achievement in Science and Technology award from lab director, Mark Peters.

Kevin Gering was honored with the Inventor of the Year Award. Gering is the principal investigator of Applied Battery Research and Diagnostic Testing, as well as an experienced inventor with more than 25 years of experience at INL. His inventions include photoreactor design, cyanide detection, thermal management and a range of advance modeling tools and chemical materials related to battery energy storage.  He won a 2014 R&D 100 Award for his Advanced Electrolyte Model and was an R&D 100 Award finalist in 2015 for his CellSage technology. During his career at INL, he has been awarded four copyrights and nine patents, and he has six patents pending.

Thomas Morgan, Chris Stayman and William Fuger were all Technician of the Year Finalists. Technicians are nominated for this award by their co-workers. Thomas Morgan has worked at INL since 2007 and currently works in the Mock-up Shop at MFC. Chris Stayman has worked at the INL since 2005 and works as a radiological control supervisor for the ATR. The Technician of the Year was William Fuger who has worked at INL since 2005 and currently works in the Reactive Materials Group focusing on National and Homeland Security projects. This is the second win for Fuger, who was also the 2010 Technician of the Year.

“Industry engagement and commercialization of technologies developed at the lab increases our impact, delivers a significant return to taxpayers, and makes the world cleaner and safer,” said INL Director Mark Peters. “Congratulations to those honored. I appreciate your dedication and hard work.”


About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. 

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Posted September 3, 2020

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