AIKEN, S.C. – A new postdoctoral scientist at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) is the first participant in a pilot program in EM’s Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP).
Chemar Huntley, a Sylacauga, Alabama, native with a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Tuskegee University, began working at the lab in October as the first ever postdoctoral research associate sponsored via the MSIPP’s postdoc pilot program.
While MSIPP is a well-established mechanism for creating a pipeline for undergraduates, the postdoctoral program is a new component as of October 2017.
Huntley says the experience is already living up to expectations.
“Not only is this allowing me to build a bridge from educational experience to industrial experience, this has already been a great self-improvement opportunity. The leadership opportunities, the personal interactions and networking, the opportunity to work with a mentor — all of those things have really educated me, and helped get my career off to a solid start,” Huntley said.
The program is challenging Huntley and introducing her to complex issues that expand her expertise.
“It’s totally different than what I expected, but in a good way,” Huntley said. “I’m getting more awareness of the protocols and the bigger picture behind what we do, and it’s giving me much better insight into what to expect in the DOE complex and the industry.”
Huntley works with other researchers in a variety of areas: the chemical testing of dyes for potential radiation detection application, the development of a beta radiation sensor that could convert radiation into power, and the development of applications for gamma-voltaic systems. Projects have also taken her beyond the laboratory, including a training opportunity with a university partner — Georgia Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology.
“That was an amazing experience, not only from the training on different machines and fabrication techniques, but also the opportunity to network with an entirely different set of people,” she said.
MSIPP supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities at minority serving institutions (historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities). The program is part of EM’s efforts to increase the community of technically skilled minority students who understand the breadth and significance of the EM mission, and who will be the next generation to enter DOE’s workforce throughout the country.
The MSIPP postdoctoral appointment is for one year, with the potential for a two-year extension.
Both the postdoctoral pilot and the undergraduate MSIPP program are administered for EM by SRNL.