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Developing the Nuclear Chemistry Experts of Tomorrow

Summer school students

Summer school students receive a hands-on lesson at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL).

This summer, 12 college students from across the United States had the opportunity to learn all that Brookhaven Lab has to teach about a vital but often overlooked area of chemistry – one that spans everything from nuclear reactors and the safe handling of nuclear material to hospital diagnostic tools and cutting-edge medical research. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Chemical Society, the Summer School in Nuclear and Radiochemistry has been instructing some of the country’s best and brightest undergraduates in all things nuclear science for 30 years.

“Nuclear chemistry focuses on things related to nuclear power, the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear weapons, astrophysics, and nuclear physics,” explained Louis Peña, the director of the summer school and a researcher in Brookhaven’s Biological, Environmental, and Climate Sciences Department. “Radiochemistry is the sub-discipline that involves attaching radioactive atoms to molecules, which is used largely for medical imaging, therapy, and research. And you need the same basic background to do both nuclear chemistry and radiochemistry.”

Not only do the students get the opportunity to see Brookhaven’s facilities up close during the six-week program, but they also get to work with the actual materials that are essential to nuclear science — the radioactive isotopes of elements, or radioisotopes.

About a fifth of the program’s alumni end up pursuing nuclear or radiochemistry at the graduate level, while another half of the students go into advanced chemistry, physics, or nuclear science, with others going on to medical school or careers in industry. But in all cases they get to carry forward the unique skills and experiences they gained at Brookhaven Lab.

To learn more about the program visit:

2015-5887  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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Stony Brook Receives $2.5 Million DOE Grant to Develop Transformational Energy Technology

Stony Brook's Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center

Assembled at Stony Brook's Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center are ARPA-E awardees, from left: Rebecca Trojanowski, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Professor William Worek, Stony Brook University; Professor Jon Longtin, Stony Brook University; Dr.Tom Butcher, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Professor Ya Wang, Stony Brook University.

A research team from Stony Brook University and Brookhaven Lab has been awarded a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Grant to develop a system that condenses water vapor from power plants in order to provide supplemental cooling for the plant and reduce water use. The team, led by Professor Jon Longtin of Stony Brook, will work to condense water out of flue gas to provide additional cooling that may enable power plants to be built in dry and land-locked areas not located near a large body of water, at a time when using open bodies of water for cooling has become a national and global concern.

The grant will help to bring scientists at Stony Brook and Brookhaven Lab together with industry partners to create prototype energy systems to be incorporated into 21st century cleaner energy practices. The research team will use a high-performance thermosyphon to move heat from the flue gas with no additional refrigeration required. The thermosyphon uses the latent heat of vaporization – rather than a temperature gradient – for heat transfer. As such the thermal resistance for heat transfer can be substantially reduced. The condensate is then stored and used for subsequent evaporative cooling using commercially available technologies.
Brookhaven research staff will play an integral role in the project, which will include hosting the planned prototype demonstration. “We are thrilled to have the chance to be part of the Stony Brook team on this high-impact project,” said Brookhaven project leader Tom Butcher. “This work gives us the opportunity to advance several important thermal-fluid problems including loop-heat pipes and composite material heat transfer.”

To learn more about this research visit:

2015-5888  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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Summer Course Introduces High School Students to Scientific Computing

Scientific computing workshop participants

Scientific computing workshop participants.

Nineteen Long Island high school students recently completed a two-week workshop designed to teach them the basics of computer programming for scientific research. With this new program, Brookhaven Lab looks to use its resources to begin to fill a gap in public science education while also building a pipeline to help identify and train the computer-literate researchers of tomorrow. 

“Whether you’re going into physics, biology, chemistry, materials science, atmospheric science, or climate change, computational science is now everywhere,” said Scott Bronson, manager of K-12 programs in Brookhaven’s Office of Educational Programs. “Having computer programming skills is not an optional thing – it’s a prerequisite. This program is helping to develop the nation’s next generation of scientists and scientific facility users and meet the growing needs across research supported by DOE’s Office of Science.”

During the two-week course, the high school students were introduced to problems that would flummox many adults. The students covered 35 total lessons, many of which involved math at a graduate school level. For Dave Biersach, a senior technology engineer at Brookhaven who served as the instructor for the workshop, setting these kinds of challenges allowed the students to unlock potential they might not always be able to show in a traditional classroom setting.

Biersach also sees potential to take the knowledge built up from this summer school and bring those lessons to public schools. With the curriculum and practical exercises now in place, local educators could eventually use them to set up computing clubs at their schools, or even offer full courses based on what Brookhaven has done. 

To read more about the workshop visit:

2015-5889  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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  • September 10 – Community Advisory Council meeting, 6:30 p.m., Berkner Hall, Room B.
  • September 30 – Noon recital. Ensō String Quartet. Berkner Hall Auditorium.

*The events above are free and open to the public. Visitors 16 and older must bring a photo ID for access to BNL events.

2015-5890  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office