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Department of Energy selects materials science graduate student for national fellowship

Eric Gabriel, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering, received an opportunity to conduct materials science and engineering research for the summer with top scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory through a Department of Energy fellowship.

Gabriel is also one of 80 graduate students representing numerous universities, including Harvard University, Stanford University, and more, for the Office of Science Graduate Student Research program’s 2021 Solicitation 2 cycle.

The fellowship prepares graduate students for STEM careers critical to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science mission by providing graduate thesis research opportunities at federal laboratories across the country.

“This fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to learn techniques from experts and access to the world-class facilities at Argonne,” Gabriel said. “I had the opportunity to conduct experiments, network and develop relationships with some of the best scientists in the world, and learn more about my material systems in ways that would not be otherwise available to me.”

Gabriel’s research project titled, “Investigation of Redox Mechanisms Affecting Stability in Layered Transition Metal Oxides at High Potential via in-situ/operando X-ray Absorption and X-ray Emission Spectroscopy,” in which he worked alongside host scientist Chengjun Sun, builds upon current research for sustainable energy systems.

Together, Gabriel and Sun utilized instruments operated by the Advanced Photon Source Spectroscopy group to explore X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray emission spectroscopy experiments, learn details of processing and data analysis, and other highly informative experiences.

“Everybody has something to teach you and sometimes you don’t know how much you don’t know,” Gabriel said. “The concentration of so many technical experts at Argonne is an outstanding opportunity to learn the complexities of many subjects, and I found that essentially every new person I interacted with had something to teach me.” 

His research at Argonne supported the type of battery materials research that is central to his dissertation. Through his dissertation committee both at Boise State and Argonne, Gabriel said he received invaluable resources beyond host scientist Sun, including the guidance from Shelly Kelly, Andrey Yakovenko, Zonghai Chen, and numerous postdoctoral appointees.

Back in Boise, Gabriel works under the support of his advisor Claire Xiong who runs the Electrochemical Energy Materials Laboratory. The materials science lab explores the synthesis, characterization, and development of advanced functional nanomaterials for sustainable energy systems.

-by Jamie Fink