Twelve UC and UC-affiliated national laboratory scientists are among the 35 “exceptional researchers” chosen for U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Research Program awards for 2014.

The awards are among the most prestigious in the country for young scientists, and winners were selected from among 750 proposals this year.

The program’s goal is to strengthen the nation’s scientific brainpower by supporting a researcher’s early years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

“By supporting our most creative and productive researchers early in their careers, this program is helping to build and sustain America’s scientific workforce,” said Patricia M. Dehmer, acting director of Energy Department’s Office of Science. “We congratulate this year’s winners on having competed successfully for these highly selective awards, and we look forward to following their accomplishments over the next five years.”

The UC-affiliated award winners and the research projects being funded are:

UC Irvine

  • Mike Pritchard, “Understanding the Roles of Cloud Microphysics and Land Surface Coupling Feedbacks in Multi-Scale Predictions of Central U.S. Summer Hydroclimate,” selected by the Office of Biological & Environmental Research.
  • Jenny Yang, “Design of Efficient Molecular Electrocatalysts for Water and Carbon Dioxide Reduction Using Predictive Models of Thermodynamic Properties,” selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

UCLA

  • Ni Ni, “Exploring Superconductivity at the Edge of Magnetic or Structural Instabilities,” selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

UC Merced

  • Florin Rusu, “Scalable and Energy-Efficient Methods for Interactive Exploration of Scientific Data,” selected by the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

UC San Diego

  • Shyue Ping Ong, “Elucidating the Determinants of Alkali Ionic Conductivity in Oxide and Sulfide Frameworks,” selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

  • Rebecca Abergel, “Harnessing f-Orbital Bonding through Precision Antenna Ligand Design for Actinide Complexation,” selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
  • Daniele Filippetto, “High Repetition Rate Ultra-Fast Electron Diffraction Development,” selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
  • Trent Northen, “Understanding Microbial Carbon Cycling in Soils Using Novel Metabolomics Approaches,” selected by the Office of Biological & Environmental Research.
  • Alexander Weber-Bargioni, “Visualizing and Controlling Energy Excitation and Transport in Mesoscale Organic and Inorganic Material Composites,” selected by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

  • Todd Gamblin, “Statistical Methods for Exascale Performance Modeling,” selected by the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.
  • Jennifer Pett-Ridge, “Microbial Carbon Transformations in Wet Tropical Soils: The Importance of Redox Fluctuations,” selected by the Office of Biological & Environmental Research.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Joel Rowland, “Incorporating the Hydrological Controls on Carbon Cycling in Floodplain Ecosystems into Earth System Models (ESMs),” selected by the Office of Biological & Environmental Research.

The research grants awarded are planned for a five-year duration.

University-based researchers will receive at least $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses.

For researchers based at national laboratories, where the Energy Department typically covers full salary and expenses of laboratory employees, grants will be at least $500,000 per year to cover year-round salary plus research expenses.

The program is open to untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professors at a U.S. academic institution or full-time national laboratory employees who received a doctorate degree within the past 10 years.