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College of Engineering researchers earn prestigious Idaho National Laboratory appointments

Kevin and Corey
Kevin Vallejo (left) and Corey Efaw in a lab at the Idaho National Lab Research Center with optics equipment for work with ultrafast lasers. Photo by Chris Morgan/Idaho National Laboratory

Kevin Vallejo and Corey Efaw received Russell L. Heath Distinguished Postdoctoral appointments from the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho, one of the national laboratories of the United States Department of Energy.

The appointments are for outstanding early-career scientists and engineers with an interest in nuclear and clean energy, as well as infrastructure protection. The appointments provide two years of support for Efaw and Vallejo to develop and lead novel research projects.

Efaw, who grew up in Boise, is a double alum (BS, mechanical engineering, 2015, Ph.D., materials science and engineering, 2021).

His research focuses on designing a safer and stronger lithium-ion battery capable of powering electric cars and more.

Efaw described Boise State as “a community where everyone worked inclusively.”

“That starts with the leadership,” he said, “professors who are constantly supporting students and always looking for ways to help advance the department as a whole. There was also a simultaneous expectation from the department to maintain joy in life outside of work and school. It’s a place that holds a soft spot for me, and I’ll cherish my time there for the rest of my life.”

Vallejo is continuing research he did at Boise State with semiconductors (crystalline material that helps conduct electrical current) for use in LEDs and lasers.

His time at Boise State, he said, prepared him for his current work by providing a variety of scientific tools and teaching him everything about research from buying supplies, to fabricating samples, to studying and interpreting results.

“It gave me a strong resume,” he said. “Additionally, what I took from campus is a strong network of friends and coworkers who are still working with me to make Idaho a center for world class research in semiconductors.”

Vallejo graduated from Boise State in 2021 with a doctorate in material science and engineering. In 2020, he received the National Nuclear Security Administration Graduate Fellowship. Vallejo is from El Paso, Texas. He grew up in Ciudad Juárez, México.