Three BNL researchers score ‘early career’ DOE grants

Triple play: Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers (from left) Sanjaya Senanayake, Alessandro Tricoli and Chao Zhang have received multi-year funding through the U.S. Department of Energy's Early Career Research Program.

Three Brookhaven National Laboratory scientists will receive “significant research funding” through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program.

The eight-year-old competitive-application program, a function of the DOE’s Office of Science, is designed to support the nation’s scientific workforce by financially supplementing “exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work,” according to a statement from the Upton laboratory.

The three BNL scientists – physicists Alessandro Tricoli and Chao Zhang and chemist Sanjaya Senanayake – are among 59 nationwide recipients, culled from roughly 700 applications for 2017 Early Career Research Program funding. Each of the winners is slated to receive up to $2.5 million in grants over five years “to cover their salary plus research expenses,” Brookhaven Lab said.

Senanayake was selected by the DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences to receive funding for “Unraveling Catalytic Pathways for Low Temperature Oxidative Methanol Synthesis from Methane,” his effort to improve catalysts enabling the conversion of methane – the primary component of natural gas – directly into methanol, a valuable chemical intermediate and potential renewable fuel.

Tricoli will receive funding from the DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics for his project, “Unveiling the Electroweak Symmetry Breaking Mechanism at ATLAS and at Future Experiments with Novel Silicon Detectors.” The physicist is out to redefine reigning particle-physics theories through new precision measurements, focusing his search for quantum anomalies on data from the Large Hadron Collider’s ATLAS experiment.

Fellow physicist Zhang was also selected by the Office of High Energy Physics to receive funding for “Optimization of Liquid Argon TPCs for Nucleon Decay and Neutrino Physics,” another exploration of the fundamental mysteries of particle physics. Specifically, Zhang is helping to lay the groundwork for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, a U.S.-hosted international research effort slated for the mid-2020s that will attempt to better explain the balance of matter and antimatter in the known universe.

A complete list of the 59 Early Career Research Program awardees, their institutions and their research projects is available here.

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