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News Release: NREL Researcher Recognized for Outstanding Achievement by Hispanic Engineers Organization

July 26, 2005

Golden, Colo. — Dr. Maria Ghirardi, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), was named one of the nation's best and brightest engineers and scientists by the Hispanic Engineers National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC) today.

Ghirardi's research has helped position NREL as the world's leader in cutting-edge research in renewable hydrogen production. Her work on algal hydrogen production has gained both national and international acclaim. She received HENAAC's outstanding technical achievement award, an honor bestowed upon an individual who has made a significant contribution to science, engineering or technology by having designed, developed, managed or assisted in the development of a product, service, system or intellectual property.

"I congratulate Dr. Ghirardi for this significant achievement," said NREL Director Dan E. Arvizu. "Not only is her research on alternative fuels helping set the stage for our nation's energy future, she is a role model for students who want to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology and math."

Ghirardi is a senior scientist at NREL and a Research Associate Professor at the Colorado School of Mines. She has a doctoral degree in comparative biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and has extensive experience working with photosynthetic organisms.

Her research at NREL involves photobiological hydrogen production and includes the development of a system for production of large quantities of active algal hydrogenase enzyme, a major break-through in research. She has authored 45 publications and her research was the subject of a Discovery Channel program that aired in 2003. Ghirardi grew up in Brazil and Portuguese is her first language.

The mission of HENAAC is to identify and honor outstanding contributions of Hispanics in science and engineering, motivate students to pursue careers in these fields and increase the role the Hispanic community plays in maintaining America's status as the world's technology leader.

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 DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.

—Sarah Barba