Meet Today's BNLers
“I just love the early morning hours,” said Sally Swain, whose day begins at 7 a.m. in the Guests, Users and Visitors (GUV) Center on the ground floor of Bldg. 400, Brookhaven’s new Research Support Building.
With the GUV Center providing service from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., someone has to work the early hours, and that person is Swain, who joined the Lab in June 2007.
Asked why she took the job at Brookhaven, Swain replied that she knew about the Lab through several friends who are bird watchers and work here. “I had been on the property bird watching. There are wonderful ecosystems here,” said Swain. She also had been to a few outdoor concerts at Summer Sundays.
Swain is one of five employees who are responsible for processing guest registrations and for checking in guests, users and casual visitors who come to the Lab. “You meet people from all over the world,” she said. “It’s fun and rewarding to finally meet the people we have worked so hard to get approval to come on site.”
Just as Brookhaven Lab is on the path of migration for visiting scientists from around the world, so is the Brookhaven site on the migratory path for birds, who stop briefly on their way north. Swain is looking forward to participating in the spring bird survey on site, with staff ecologist Tim Green.
Planning a move to Long Island with her boyfriend, who had a job offer from Stony Brook University, Tiffany Gagnon started her research early and discovered that Brookhaven Lab had on-staff communications specialists. A graphic designer who had once considered a career in science, Gagnon thought the Lab might be a good match.
Later, when looking at an apartment on the Island, a realtor confirmed what Gagnon had learned online. “She told me that Brookhaven was one of Long Island’s top employers and that she’d heard it was a great place to work,” said Gagnon.
After exploring Brookhaven’s website further, Gagnon was sold on the Lab. “I was intrigued by the cutting-edge research happening here, impressed with the state-of-the-art equipment on site, and excited about the big future plans that the Lab has in store for itself,” she said.
She added, “It seemed like a place that would foster a creative, hard-working, ready-to-learn atmosphere. It was just the kind of place I was hoping to find! After my first visit and interview I was even more excited about the prospect of working here. Everyone I met seemed genuinely happy to be at work, and I felt a strong sense of community on site. I have to say my expectations have been met and even exceeded. I am thrilled to be here and look forward to coming in to work in the morning!”
Peter Bennett, a professor at Arizona State University, is collaborating with Peter Sutter, his host at BNL's Center for Functional Nanomaterials, using a low-energy electron microscope, or LEEM.
"We are working to build useful nanoscale objects. This requires that we understand and learn to control their growth," said Bennett. "Just seeing structures at the nanoscale is difficult. Watching them interact in real time at high temperature is even more challenging."
According to Bennett, no tool is better suited for this work than a LEEM. Unlike in a conventional transmission electron microscope, electrons in a LEEM do not penetrate a sample; rather, they are reflected, gently probing the surface.
In one experiment, Bennett is looking at the motion of tiny droplets of liquid metal, in the form of a platinum-silicide (PtSi) alloy on a clean silicon surface. In the case of silicon(100), successive crystal layers have two alternate structures, leading to a strong black/white contrast between alternate layers. The resulting zebra-like pattern provides a clear indicator for the configuration (and motion) of single atomic steps on the surface.
Dorene Price, a Senior Patent Attorney in the Office of Intellectual Property began her career at Brookhaven in January 2007.
When asked why she came to Brookhaven Price replied, "I chose Brookhaven because it is one of only a few opportunities on Long Island, apart from universities, where employees are immersed in a high-caliber scientific environment. Some other reasons included the proximity to my home on Long Island, the activities and on-site day care and last, but not by any means least, the exceptional people I met during my interview process. Finally, the people that I knew at Brookhaven were long-term employees (25 or plus years), who described it as a wonderful place to work even after many years. That was quite impressive."
George Woods, a Senior Contract Specialist in the Procurement and Property Management Division, working with the NSLS-II project team, began his career at Brookhaven in December 2006.
When asked why he came to work at Brookhaven National Laboratory Woods replied: “I have always wanted to work at BNL to be a part of the science and contribute to the future of our world. To work at a facility where you know you are at the forefront of modern science, making new discoveries, and working with some of the most brilliant people from all over the world, is very exciting. As I sat through the 60th anniversary celebration I was totally fascinated with not only the enthusiasm of the employees and what discoveries have been made the past 60 years, but also what is in store for the Lab in the future. When the show concluded I smiled and thought, this is exactly why I wanted to work here.”
Ranjan Grover, a Research Associate in the Collider-Accelerator Department came to Brookhaven National Laboratory to work on photocathode development for eRHIC. Among many current active experiments, the one shown in the picture shows Ranjan working on an atomic force microscope (AFM) system for experimental measurement of various surface parameters. An AFM can measure surface properties such as roughess, work function, electrical conductance, friction, and magnetic moments with atomic of near atomic resolution.
When asked why he came to work at Brookhaven, Grover replied: "In the Fall of 2006 I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Arizona. I wanted to continue my career in research at a place which would mimic the atmosphere of a university yet pay more than a typical graduate student salary! I saw job postings for Brookhaven in Physics Today to work on the Energy recovery Linac project. I applied and was called for an interview. I felt at home during the interview and expressed my desire to join the Collider-Accelerator Department. Luckily, the feeling was mutual and I was offered the job! The beauty of the campus in late Fall helped me make the decision to accept the job. I had another job offer, but it required wearing a tie. I rejected it.
Barbara Jacak, a physics professor at Stony Brook University, studies high-energy collisions of gold ions at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). Jacak and her colleagues use the PHENIX detector at RHIC to study the extremely hot and dense matter that is believed to have existed a microsecond after the Big Bang. Their quest is to understand the smallest building blocks of matter, known as quarks and gluons, and how they formed the matter that we are more familiar with today.
Jacak earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Physics at Michigan State University. She was a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 12 years before moving to Stony Brook University in 1997. She enjoys teaching and mentoring students. In December 2006, Jacak was elected the PHENIX collaboration spokesperson.
Dan Fischer is an explorer on the atomic level. A physicist and leader of the National Institute of Standards (NIST) team who work at BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), Fischer studies materials as diverse as polymers for making artificial joints to nanotubes, cylindrical molecules that hold promise for future innovation in such areas as fuel cells and flat-panel television displays.
Since earning his Ph.D. in physics from Stony Brook University in 1984, Fischer has studied the chemistry and structure of numerous materials using novel synchrotron radiation detection methods at the NSLS. First, he did research for Exxon Research and Engineering Company. For the past 16 years, he has worked at NIST beam lines at the NSLS. Fischer said, “The capabilities of the NSLS have empowered my team and me to make significant progress in understanding the atomic structure of numerous materials. These include batteries, catalysts, fuel cells, polymers, semiconductors and superconductors. This basic research is important for developing new materials and processes.”