Kim Dougherty
(806) 683-5559

August 2018

CANYON, TX – Two students at Florida International University have won awards in the 2018 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Technology R&D.

Silvina Di Pietro, a Ph.D. student in Chemistry, has been awarded a prize in the Competition for Students at Universities with Less than $600 Million in 2016 R&D Expenditures. Her award-winning research paper, “Ammonia Gas Treatment for Uranium Immobilization at DOE Hanford Site,” was presented at Waste Management Symposia in March 2017.

Frances Zengotita, an undergraduate student in Chemistry and English, has been awarded a prize in the Undergraduate Competition. Her award-winning research paper, “The Role of Chromohalobacter on Transport of Lanthanides and Cesium in the Dolomite Mineral System,” was presented to Los Alamos National Laboratory in October 2017.

Silvina Di Pietro (Chemistry)

Silvina Di Pietro (Chemistry)

Frances Elisa Zengotita (Chemistry)

Frances Elisa Zengotita (Chemistry)

In order to be successful and retain its leadership role in nuclear technologies, the United States must foster creativity and breakthrough achievements to develop tomorrow’s nuclear technologies. The Department of Energy has long recognized that university students are an important source of breakthrough solutions and a key component in meeting its long-term goals. The Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards program was developed for this purpose.

The Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards program is designed to: 1) award graduate and undergraduate students for innovative nuclear-technology-relevant research publications, 2) demonstrate the Department of Energy’s commitment to higher education in nuclear-technology-relevant disciplines, and 3) support communications among university students and Department of Energy representatives.

The program awarded 23 prizes in 2018 for student publications relevant to innovative nuclear technology. In addition to cash awards, award-winning students will have a variety of other opportunities.

For more information on the Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards program, visit

Download Press Release: Press Release 2018 Innovations Awards Florida International University