The Bright Future in Energy Scholarship Competition

INL’s Bright Future in Energy Scholarship Competition recognizes and awards 11th and 12th grade students who are interested in pursuing a college or university education focused on science, technology, engineering or math. INL awarded $25,000 in scholarships to one top scholar and multiple runners-up.

Participating students researched one of the five prompts below and prepared a presentation which was presented virtually to a panel of INL judges April 25 – 29, 2022. To be eligible for consideration, students submitted their presentations by April 20.

2022 Bright Future in Energy Scholarship Prompts:

  1. How do the actual risks and benefits of nuclear energy compare with other existing energy technologies and those that will be part of the world’s Net-Zero future?
  2. How do we help people understand the importance of nuclear energy to reaching a Net-zero future powered solely by new green energy technologies?
  3. How do we develop a truly sustainable recycling method? In other words, one that is economically feasible, environmentally responsible and socially justifiable?
  4. How do we develop a process that will allow for the extraction and refinement of rare earth elements and other critical resources needed to power the move towards a Net-zero future, while taking into consideration the future impacts on people, wildlife and the environment?
  5. How do we understand and communicate these risks effectively, share information and best practices and create greater cyber awareness in our schools, communities and industry?


Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Bright Future in Energy Scholarship Competition!

Top scholar: Claire Yoo

Claire is a junior at Idaho Falls High School. She will receive a $12,000 scholarship for her presentation addressing the question: “How do we develop a process that will allow for the extraction and refinement of rare earth elements and other critical resources needed to power the move towards a Net-zero future, while taking into consideration the future impacts on people, wildlife and the environment?”

In her research, she examined spreadsheets from the U.S. Department of Energy and national laboratory websites. One came from Sandia National Laboratories and detailed how rare earth elements can be extracted from coal ash using food-grade citric acid.

While concluding that there are no simple solutions, she concluded a net-zero future is possible by fully considering future impacts on people, wildlife and the environment.

With her senior year still ahead of her, Yoo is thinking about college “somewhere on the East Coast, ” she said.


Runner Up: Chase Crawford

Chase crawfordA junior at Mountain View High School outside Boise, Chase will receive a $6,500 scholarship for his response to the prompt: “How do the actual risks and benefits of nuclear energy compare with other existing energy technologies and those that will be part of the world’s Net-Zero future?”

In his presentation, Chase made some conclusions, including that nuclear energy is essential to a realistic, economically viable net-zero future because of its ability to replace coal and other GHG-emitting energy forms as well as its constant available energy.

Outside of school, Crawford enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and rock climbing. This figures in where he would like to go to college, most likely a place where mountains are not far away like Utah State University.


Runner Up: Jonathan Zhang

fac  d d ecfbdJonathan Zhang is a a junior at Central Bucks West High School. He will receive a $6,500 scholarship for his presentation addressing the question: “How do the actual risks and benefits of nuclear energy compare with other existing energy technologies and those that will be part of the world’s Net-Zero future?”

After reviewing information from 28 different sources, however, “I found there were a lot more benefits to nuclear than I realized,” he said. “Nuclear was a lot better than I thought it was.”

“It’s a clean, reliable energy source,” he said.

With a year of high school left, Zhang has yet to pick a college he wants to attend, focused instead on his Advanced Placement classes, which include calculus, biology, English composition, statistics, and macroeconomics. Although he is certain his career will involve science, he hasn’t decided exactly what field. But his presentation has piqued his interest in the atom. “I find nuclear energy really interesting,” he said.