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NREL’s Romero Chosen Top Young Professional in U.S.

Other laboratory professionals receive widespread acclaim

April 29, 2016

Rachel Romero, a building systems engineer at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has been named a 2016 New Faces of Engineering recipient by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Romero, 29, who received the New Faces Award, joined NREL in May 2010 and is only the second person at the laboratory to be so honored. A building systems engineer, she has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to increase the federal agency's use of electricity from renewable sources. Romero earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Hope College, and her master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Romero separately has been named recipient of the Young Engineer in ASHRAE (YEA) Award of Individual Excellence to recognize her contributions to the association. Romero is co-chair of YEA for the organization's Rocky Mountain chapter.

Work on PV Power Yields Recognition from International Group

Two scientists from NREL were honored by the Utility Variable-Generation Integration Group for their pioneering work in the field trials of ancillary services from PV power plants. NREL Principal Engineer Vahan Gevorgian and Grid Integration Manager Barbara O'Neill were presented with the UVIG Achievement Award during the organization's annual meeting in Sacramento in recognition for their leadership and contributions.

"It has been great to leverage the hard work of researchers here and in industry to put theoretical capabilities to the test out in the field." O'Neill said. "We discovered positive results in proving out the sophistication of plant controllers, as well as some unexpected glitches, primarily in the communications process. We feel that it would be greatly beneficial to showcase these and other advanced controller capabilities in an even larger field demonstration."

O'Neill and Gevorgian were recognized along with: Gregory Rivera Chico and Martin Perez Garcia, PREPA; Mahesh Morjaria and Vladimir Chadliev, First Solar; and Obed Santos, AES.

Lany's Peer Reviews Earn Him Outstanding Referee Honor

Stephan Lany, a theoretical/computational materials scientist at NREL, was honored by the American Physical Society (APS) with the designation of Outstanding Referee.

The nonprofit organization, which works to advance knowledge of physics through education and publications, this year singled out 146 people out of more than 69,000 referees to receive that designation. Lany is only the second person at NREL to be named an Outstanding Referee.

APS relies on scientists as anonymous peer reviewers - or referees - to assess manuscripts for publication in its Physical Review journals. Who was considered to be "outstanding" was determined based on the number, quality, and timeliness of their reports.

Lany, who earned his doctorate in physics from the Universität des Saarlandes in Germany, joined NREL in 2003 as a postdoctoral researcher and was named a staff scientist in 2006.

Bioenergy Center Scientists Ranked Among Best

A trio of NREL scientists - Tom Foust, Helena Chum and Phil Pienkos - made Biofuels Digest's annual ranking of the Top 100 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy. They shared the No. 61 position.

The online publication's editors and readers nominate and vote on the most influential leaders and pioneers in advancing the research, development, and distribution of biofuels.

"Being on this list demonstrates that we're recognized as a significant contributor in the field," said Foust, director of the National Bioenergy Center at NREL. "This demonstrates that NREL is not only furthering the bioeconomy, but that we're actually pushing the limits of the bioeconomy."

Chum is research fellow in the National Bioenergy Center, while Pienkos is principal group manager for BioProcess Research and Development. Foust joined NREL in 2004. Chum has been at NREL since 1979, when it was known as the Solar Energy Research Institute. Pienkos joined NREL in 2007.

Distinguished Yale Honor Goes To Nozik

Arthur Nozik, senior research fellow emeritus at NREL, will receive the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal from the Yale University Graduate School Alumni Association in September. The association annually chooses a select few alumni to receive the award to recognize distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration, and public service.

The award was created in 1966 and named for Cross, who earned his doctorate in English literature from Yale in 1889 and taught at the university for 36 years. He also served two terms as governor of Connecticut.

Nozik earned his doctorate in physical chemistry from Yale in 1967. He joined what's now NREL in 1978.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

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