Three Stanford faculty, two SLAC scientists receive DOE Early Career Awards

DOE grant recipients
DOE Early Career Research Program recipients Wendy Gu, Douglas Stanford and Vedika Khemani.

Stanford faculty members WENDY GU, VEDIKA KHEMANI and DOUGLAS STANFORD will receive Early Career Research Program awards from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Through these awards, the DOE aims to “bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.”

Staff scientists AMY CORDONES-HAHN and BRENDAN O’SHEA from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory were also among this year’s awardees.

SLAC researchers
SLAC staff scientists Amy Cordones-Hahn and Brendan O’Shea, recipients of 2020 DOE Early Career Awards. (Photos by Christopher Hahn and Brendan O’Shea)

The Stanford/SLAC scientists were among 76 recipients selected from a pool of university and national laboratory applicants. University-based researchers will receive grants for at least $150,000 per year and researchers based at DOE national laboratories will receive grants for at least $500,000 per year, with grants planned for five years.

With this award, Gu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will study deformation in metallic glass. This will involve fabricating glass from metallic glass nanoparticles with tunable structure and composition, and using advanced electron microscopy, X-ray measurements and non-mechanical testing to evaluate the structure and performance of the nano-metallic glass.

Khemani, assistant professor of physics, will pursue several broad topics concerning large quantum systems that are out of thermal equilibrium, including exploring novel phenomena that arise in out-of-equilibrium regimes, such as time crystals, which have structures that repeat in time as well as space.

Stanford, associate professor of physics, seeks to understand the quantum nature of black holes and use those findings to address other fundamental questions in cosmology, such as what happened before the big bang and whether space-time might be an “emergent” phenomenon that arises from more basic interactions in nature. Stanford’s research will also focus on the relationship between quantum gravity and quantum information science.

Cordones-Hahn, an investigator with the Stanford PULSE Institute, will use X-rays to understand how electrons move around in a molecule as it catalyzes a light-triggered chemical reaction – work that could eventually lead to better systems for producing fuel from sunlight.

O’Shea will explore using artificial intelligence to continually monitor and improve the quality of powerful electron beams at FACET-II, a DOE Office of Science user facility where scientists will test and develop next-generation accelerator concepts.