Meet Three Students Recognized by the AAAG at Brookhaven Lab

Kate Johnson, Allen Pierre-Louis, and Ketsia Zinga

From left to right: Kate Johnson, Allen Pierre-Louis, and Ketsia Zinga

The African American Advancement Group (AAAG) is an employee resource group at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory. AAAG members help employees and guests at Brookhaven Lab promote awareness of Black, African, African American, and Caribbean cultures. They support Brookhaven Lab's diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals through programs and events, including annual scholarships that connect the Lab with outside communities, fostering connectivity, workforce development, and potential recruitment of future staff and collaborators.

The three graduate students AAAG awarded scholarships to most recently were:

  • Kate Johnson of Carnegie Mellon University
  • Allen Pierre-Louis of Stony Brook University
  • Ketsia Zinga of the University of Texas at Austin

"We were honored to host them at Brookhaven Lab and offer this token of support to help them do great things in science in the future."

— Juanita McKinney, AAAG President

AAAG recognized these honorees as exceptional African American students who have conducted research at Brookhaven Lab. They received $3,000 through the Augustus “Gus” Prince Awards for African American Scholars. This program was established in memory of a notable African American nuclear scientist who worked at Brookhaven Lab from 1966 to 1993. The AAAG hosted a virtual ceremony to present the students with their awards on Aug. 10, 2022.

"The AAAG is proud to recognize these students for the incredible research they are doing," said AAAG President Juanita McKinney. "We were honored to host them at Brookhaven Lab and offer this token of support to help them do great things in science in the future."

Kate Johnson is pursuing a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University. Currently, her research focus is on implementing chemical aging schemes for particles emitted from wildfires into a global climate model to study their radiative effects. She has also worked on an evaluation of reduced-complexity air quality models that are used for policy analysis. Johnson worked at Brookhaven from June to August 2022 with mentor Allison McComiskey, chair of the Lab's Environmental & Climate Sciences Department. Johnson earned her bachelor's degrees in environmental engineering and musical theatre from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Allen Pierre-Louis is a graduate student at Stony Brook University. His research is focused on the feasibility of measuring "high Q2" or "squared four momentum" electron-proton scattering at the future Electron-Ion Collider facility. Pierre-Louis worked at Brookhaven Lab from June to August 2022 and, before that, interned at the Laboratory with assistance from the Nuclear Physics Traineeship Program. His mentor at Brookhaven was Abhay Deshpande, who has a joint appointment with Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University. Pierre-Louis earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Stony Brook University.

Ketsia Zinga is a second-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, she is focused on using molecular dynamics to explore the behavior of disordered regions of membrane binding proteins to gain insights into their roles in bending processes. From May to August 2021, Zinga worked with Oleg Gang of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven Lab. She earned a bachelor's in biomedical engineering from Columbia University.

All three scholars' previous work at Brookhaven Lab was supported by the National GEM Consortium.

The Gus Prince Awards were made possible with support from Brookhaven Science Associates, the Director’s Office, Nuclear and Particle Physics Directorate's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council, the Nuclear Science and Technology Department, and the Long Island Section of the American Nuclear Society (LIANS).

The AAAG is one of seven employee resource groups, supporting an inclusive work environment and diverse workforce at Brookhaven Lab.

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