Fellow Reflection: Paul Ellison
Discipline: Physical Chemistry
Practicum: Los Alamos National Laboratory
Hometown: Janesville, Wis.
Explain why you have an interest in stewardship science.
The branch of stewardship science I am interested in is low energy nuclear science. This field is particularly appealing to me because of how it is integrally related to a variety of important topics such as nuclear forensics, nuclear power generation, astrophysics and medical physics. Without important research performed in low energy nuclear science, we would never be able to fully understand how the sun and earth formed from stardust. Physicians would have neither medical imaging technologies such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) nor many of the current treatments for thyroid disease and cancer. By studying low energy nuclear science, I hope to make an impact in these interesting and beneficial topics.
Why did the DOE NNSA SSGF program appeal to you?
The DOE NNSA SSGF program appealed to me for several reasons. First, the program’s specific goals and requirements are very well aligned with my own research goals and experience. This, along with the fact that these specific goals are within three relatively small fields of research, was very encouraging to me when applying. Also, the financial benefits of the fellowship were very appealing to both my mentor and me. Most importantly, I found the opportunities that the fellowship offered to attend conferences and form collaborations with national laboratory scientists very exciting.
Explain the benefits you have received or positive experiences you have had in the DOE NNSA SSGF program.
There have been many benefits to being a fellow in the DOE NNSA SSGF program. I feel the largest of these has been the opportunities it has given me to travel to scientific conferences and collaborations. With the support of my fellowship, I have attended many scholarly conferences where I’ve presented my research to the scientific community. These conferences have been invaluable in helping me improve my communication and networking skills. In addition, the fellowship practicum certainly benefited me as a young scientist. It was very stimulating to move to a new environment and perform research on a different topic for a summer. The skills and knowledge gained while on practicum have been of a great help with my own research since returning.
Describe your career goal(s) in the field of stewardship science.
My ultimate career goal is become a professor of chemistry. I have greatly enjoyed the three semesters that I have been a graduate student instructor at UC Berkeley. One course I instructed which was especially challenging and rewarding was an undergraduate-level nuclear chemistry laboratory class. In this course, topics that are very important to stewardship science, such as nuclear instrumentation and radiochemical separations, were taught in a hands-on environment. Because of the specialized course material, a course such as this is offered only at a very few number of universities. At my future university or college of employment, it will be a clear goal of mine start or expand an undergraduate nuclear chemistry curriculum to foster undergraduate student’s interest in this important field of study.
List or describe some of your hobbies and interests outside of your research / studies.
I enjoy camping, backpacking, board games and home brewing beer.