Oct. 3, 2023
Engineering professor receives $5 million federal grant to build a diverse STEM workforce
VCU, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union University will form a consortium with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to train students in isotope production.
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The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a team led by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Braden Goddard, Ph.D., a $5 million grant over the next five years through its Office of Science’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce initiative.
The award will fund the Minority Serving Institutions for Manufacturing Sustainable Isotopes and Mainstreaming Scientific Inclusion project, which will focus on evaluating multiple methods of isotope production with a goal of developing a new, more efficient method.
“Ensuring that research funding is coupled to student development and training is vital to meeting the future workforce needs of isotope production science,” said Goddard, assistant professor of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering in the VCU College of Engineering.
Three Minority Serving Institutions – VCU, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union University – will form a consortium with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to train 70 undergraduate and graduate students in all aspects related to isotope production.
Joining Goddard as principal investigators for this grant are Jessika Rojas, Ph.D., and Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D., from VCU; Grace Ndip, Ph.D., from VSU; Narbe Kalantarians, Ph.D., from VUU; and Stacy Queern, Ph.D., and Clarice Phelps from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The students participating in the project will be financially supported to do the research, and each student will develop their own project to present by themselves at a national scientific conference.
“This will not only help students graduate with little to no debt, but it will also develop skills in them that are not usually developed through coursework,” Goddard said.
The RENEW award is among $70 million in Department of Energy funding to support research by historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to diversify leadership in the physical sciences.
“This large grant highlights the capabilities of the College of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University and shows to our peer institutions the important work that is being done by our faculty,” Goddard said.
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