Kevin Vallejo, a third-year doctoral student of materials science and engineering at Boise State University, has been awarded the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Graduate Fellowship. This nationally competitive fellowship will enable Vallejo to gain hands-on experience with nuclear security and contribute to the field, receive specialized training, and collaborate with professionals and experts from around the world.
Vallejo is originally from El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Ciudad Juárez, México. He completed his bachelor’s degree in physics at The University of Texas at El Paso with minors in mathematics and philosophy. While completing his bachelor’s degree, Vallejo received the Gilman Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study a semester in Turku, Finland.
At Boise State, Vallejo serves on the Graduate Diversity Student Advisory Board. This board currently is working to draft guidelines for the upcoming graduate assistantship support for traditionally underrepresented graduate students.
“Knowing that I have a chance to support students the way I have been helped keeps me motivated,” Vallejo said. “Boise State, through the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering, has helped me develop my professional and scientific abilities by supporting my studies financially and through a very supportive network of peers and mentors.”
In his time at Boise State, Vallejo has become an integral member of the Collaboratory for Epitaxy of Nanomaterials (CEN). Mentored by physics and materials science assistant professor Paul Simmonds, Vallejo’s work focuses on growing semiconductor crystals with the goal of developing new devices for quantum computing and cryptography. Vallejo also collaborates with international teams to work on infrared technologies and new electronic devices.
“Kevin is an extremely motivated researcher, whose intellectual interests range from physics to philosophy. This NNSA fellowship gives Kevin the opportunity to gain new knowledge, explore a possible future career in the area of science policy and administration, and build invaluable future contacts with people in various government agencies. I am very proud of Kevin for winning this highly competitive fellowship,” said Simmonds.
As a researcher for the collaboratory, Vallejo already has been published in the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B. His research article, titled “InAs(111)A homoepitaxy with molecular beam epitaxy” pertains to the epitaxy of Indium Arsenide (InAs) as a surface for growing semiconductors.
“My hope for the future is that we have a more scientifically literate body of advisors to the government,” said Vallejo. “I wish to contribute ideas and knowledge that will not only help people in the practical sphere, such as new technologies and devices, but also through the implementation of rules and programs that offer people a better life and is supported by scientifically-backed facts and data.”