On November 13, 2013, Florida International University’s (FIU’s) Applied Research Center (ARC) conducted the seventh (7th) annual DOE Fellows’ Induction Ceremony. This year, Ms. Elizabeth Connell (Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management) was one of the keynote speakers for the ceremony. Ms. Connell commented on the strong partnership between DOE and FIU over the last two decades and the contributions that FIU has made to the overall EM cleanup mission.

Other distinguished guests included Melody Bell (DOE EM’s Office of Human Capital), Ana Han (DOE International Programs), Paul Deason (Associate Director of Savannah River National Laboratory), Margie Brown [Minority Serving Institute (MSI) Outreach Program Manager, GA Tech Research Institute], Dr. Peter Orther (UM, ARC Advisory Board Member), Dr. Lee Swanger (Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting, ARC Advisory Board Member), and James Ault (Florida Power and Light, NEXTERA). FIU was represented at the event by Dr. Andres Gil (Vice President for Research), Dr. Ken Furton (Dean, College of Arts and Sciences), Dr. Luis Salas (FIU Associate VP for Research), Norman Munroe (Associate Dean of FIU College of Engineering), Dr. Ines Triay (ARC Executive Director), Brian Fonseca (ARC Director of Operations) and Dr. Leonel E. Lagos (DOE Fellows Program Director), as well as FIU faculty, staff, and students.

Ms. Connell and the other distinguished guests had the opportunity to participate in morning tours of the ARC research laboratories and listen to DOE Fellows presenting their research work. Presentations were given by Dr. Lagos and DOE Fellows Gabriela Vasquez and Paola Sepulveda. Dr. Lagos presented an update on the DOE-FIU Cooperative Agreement and the DOE Fellows program.  DOE Fellow Gabriela Vasquez presented her summer internship experience and research at DOE-EM30 under the supervision of Ms. Christine Gelles. DOE Fellow Paola Sepulveda presented her DOE EM research on the microbial dissolution of uranium (VI) from autunite mineral. Paola also participated in a summer internship this past summer at DOE-HQ working under the supervision of Mr. Kurt Gerdes (DOE EM12). In addition, 12 DOE Fellows had the opportunity to showcase their research by presenting posters as part of the morning presentations.

Tours of the ARC facilities included visits to the radiological laboratory, the environmental technology laboratory, the composites laboratory, the soil & groundwater laboratory, and the technology demonstration area.  Technologies showcased included the peristaltic crawler and asynchronous pulsing unit for piping unplugging, the ISDSN test cube, the East Fork Poplar Creek model, the Waste Information Management System, and the D&D Knowledge Management Information Tool.

The Science & Technology Workforce Development Program (DOE Fellows Program) was established in 2007 under a partnership between FIU and DOE EM to create a “pipeline” of minority scientists and engineers specifically trained and mentored to enter the DOE’s workforce in technical areas of need.

During this year’s Induction Ceremony, 15 new FIU minority students were inducted as DOE Fellows:

  • Michael Abbot – undergraduate, mechanical engineering
  • Pedro Cordon – undergraduate, computer engineering
  • Natalie Duque – undergraduate, environmental engineering
  • Michelle Embon – undergraduate, civil engineering
  • Mariana Evora – undergraduate, civil engineering
  • Alexandra Fleitas – undergraduate, mechanical engineering
  • Eduardo Garcia – undergraduate, mechanical engineering
  • Hansell Gonzalez – graduate, chemistry
  • Adamandios Manoussakis – undergraduate, electrical engineering
  • Deanna Moya – undergraduate, mechanical engineering
  • Steve Noel – undergraduate, computer science
  • Sasha Philius – undergraduate, mechanical engineering
  • Christian Pino – undergraduate, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Lucas Scott – graduate, geology
  • Carmela Vallalta – undergraduate, mechanical engineering

In addition, awards were presented to the DOE Fellows that won the DOE Fellows Poster Exhibition and Competition held on October 16, 2013. First place went to Mr. Robert Lapierre for his poster titled, “Characterization of the Uranium-Bearing Products of Novel Remediation Technologies.” Second place went to Ms. Gabriela Vazquez for her poster titled “Low Level and Mixed Low Level Waste Treatment Technology Identification.” Two third places were awarded to Ms. Jennifer Arniella for her poster titled “Analysis of Life Expectancy for Waste Transfer Lines Located in SY-Farm at Hanford Site” and Ms. Paola Sepulveda for her poster titled “Investigation on Microbial Dissolution of Uranium (VI) from Autunite Mineral.”

For the fifth year, the DOE Fellow of the Year Award and the Mentor of the Year Award were presented in the ceremony. DOE Fellows were requested to nominate their ARC mentors and ARC mentors were requested to nominate the DOE Fellows. An ARC committee was established to review and select the winners from the submitted nominations. The 2013 Mentor of the Year Award went to research scientist Dr. Yelena Katsenovich and the 2013 DOE Fellow of the Year Award was given to Ms. Gabriella Vazquez (DOE Fellows Class of 2012) and Ms. Paola Sepulveda (DOE Fellows Class of 2011).