Vanderbilt grad student awarded extended DOE residency to advance scholarship in transport of subatomic materials

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Nicole Moehring, a fifth-year graduate student in interdisciplinary materials science, has been selected for an extended residency to continue her doctoral research at the Savannah River National Laboratory. She is one of just 87 awardees selected by the Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research program this year.

Nicole Moehring (Anne Rayner)

At Vanderbilt, Moehring conducts her research in the lab of Piran Kidambi, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Her Ph.D. project focuses on transport of subatomic species through atomically thin 2D materials for isotope separations as well as energy storage and conversion. SRNL research topics include environmental remediation, technologies for the hydrogen economy, handling of hazardous materials and technologies for prevention of nuclear proliferation. The award will provide a monthly stipend and support for travel to and from Savannah River National Laboratory in Jackson, South Carolina.

“It’s an honor for my research to be recognized by the DOE, and I’m excited to progress it further by working with the scientists at SRNL. It is a great opportunity for me to build upon the research experience I’ve gained here at Vanderbilt and apply it to new methods and analysis techniques that will advance our understanding of subatomic species transport through two-dimensional materials,” Moehring said.

“This DOE award recognizes Nicole’s outstanding research achievements in her Ph.D. research and allows her to take her learnings in isotope separations from our lab to the Savannah River National Lab with relevance for fusion reactors as well as environmental remediation efforts,” Kidambi said. “Nicole is an exceptionally talented young researcher and a fantastic team player. She is leading our efforts in nanoscale mass transport at the extremes of length scales.”

This is the latest in a string of high-profile national awards for Moehring, including the 2023 North American Membrane Society Student Fellowship, an award given to the top three students in the U.S. In 2021, Oak Ridge National Laboratory invited her to speak at the Joint Nanoscience and Neutron Scattering User Meeting, where she won best student presentation. In 2018, she was awarded a Vanderbilt University Graduate Fellowship and a student fellowship from the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering for demonstrated success during her undergraduate years.

“The SCGSR program provides a way for graduate students to enrich their scientific research by engaging with researchers at DOE national labs, learning from world-class scientists and using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. In addition, they get valuable opportunities to network and observe firsthand what it’s like to have a scientific career,” said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of the DOE Office of Science. “I can’t wait to see what these young researchers do in the future. I know they will meet upcoming scientific challenges in new and innovative ways.”