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Idaho National Laboratory recently held its 16th Annual Honors Reception to recognize the outstanding work of the lab's scientists, engineers and researchers.

INL recognizes outstanding inventors and engineers at annual Honors Reception

By Sarah Robertson, INL Communications & Governmental Affairs

INL scientists and engineers traded their lab coats and sensible shoes for formal attire at the 16th Annual Idaho National Laboratory Honors Reception on Friday, Feb. 17. INL's version of the Oscars was a glitzy affair complete with soft piano music, sparkling ice sculptures and scrumptious hors d'oeuvres. Laboratory Director John Grossenbacher hosted this year's event at the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls.

Lab Director John Grossenbacher congratulates physicist Gus Caffrey for receiving the Individual Lifetime Achievement Award.

As the ceremony got under way, Grossenbacher acknowledged that the lab faced several challenges in 2011, but also saw many outstanding accomplishments. "INL helped fuel the Mars Rover Curiosity on its journey to the red planet," he said. "We began construction on several new buildings across the site, and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies continued to flourish." A special video on the year's accomplishments was produced for the occasion.

INL gained international recognition again this year for two technologies that won R&D 100 awards – the Rad-Release Chemical Decontamination Technology and the Impedance Measurement Box battery diagnostic tool. This marks 46 R&D 100 awards for the lab since 1986. The lab was also issued 32 patents in 2011 and several copyright assertions. "Patents are the way we protect new ideas, discoveries and inventions so   they can be successfully commercialized. Copyright assertions perform the same function for software creation and inventions," Grossenbacher said.

The Early Career Exceptional Achievement Award provides recognition to an employee under the age of 35 whose accomplishments mark the person as a thought leader among peers, and one whose talents and achievements are indicative of a bright future in invention and discovery.

Peter Zalupski was presented the award this year for his very successful early career in the radiochemistry field. He has published research journals in the field of aqueous separations, specifically the technically challenging area of the thermodynamics of separation systems. Zalupski's achievements have established new capabilities at INL, enhanced the reputation of INL as the pre-eminent laboratory for nuclear fuel cycle research, and resulted in significant amounts of programmatic funding. In his three years as a full-time employee at INL, Zalupski has obtained two new LDRDs (Laboratory Directed Research & Development contracts) as principle investigator and a third as co-principal investigator.

2011 Highlights, Patent Overview, Technician of the Year Finalists

Eleven researchers were given Lifetime Achievement Awards for Inventorship. These awards recognize achievement over the entire span of a career. Inventors who are bestowed this award are inducted into INL's Hall of Fame after being recognized for reaching the five-patent milestone. They are again recognized when they reach 10, 15 and 20 patented inventions.

Kevin McHugh, Nick Mann, Henry Chu, Douglas Akers, Lucia Petkovic, Dean Peterman, Vicki Thompson and James Jones were all recognized as new Hall of Fame members for each receiving the five-patent threshold. Two inventers – Phillip West and the late Troy Tranter – were recognized for reaching the second plateau with 10 patented inventions. Retired employee Ken Telschow was recognized for creating 15 patented inventions.

Other scientists and engineers were recognized for their outstanding achievement at the lab. The most accomplished group is the INL Fellows, who are nationally and internationally recognized for leadership in science or engineering. INL's Fellows are Bill Apel, Herschel Smartt, David Petti, Terry Todd, Nam Dinh, Steve Herring, James Delmore, Paul Meakin, Giuseppe "Pino" Palmiotti and Joy Rempe.

The INL Laboratory Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement recognizes a member of the scientific staff who has accomplished outstanding theoretical or experimental research, typically over a sustained period at the lab. This award recognizes accomplishments such as performing research that opens a new field of study, finding a solution to a long-standing scientific problem, sustained scientific effort that significantly advances a specific field of knowledge, or making a major theoretical or experimental discovery.

Richard Wright was the winner of the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award for work he has done throughout his 26-year career at INL. Wright has published 61 journal articles, 48 conference proceedings and nonreviewed articles and has earned seven patents. He currently leads a major effort to specify the materials that will be used in the intermediate heat exchanger of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant. He also provides leadership, technical direction and mentoring to light water reactor sustainability, advanced fuel cycle initiative programs and nuclear energy enabling technologies. 

Guests and employees mingle inside the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls prior to the awards ceremony.

The INL Laboratory Award for Exceptional Engineering Achievement is selected by the INL Fellows. The award is given to an employee who performs engineering research, is recognized nationally or internationally and who sustains very high technical contributions during one's INL career. The award is typically presented to a person who leads the transformation of ideas into products, has membership on national standards committees and who has received national recognition through awards or invited contributions.

This year, the Exceptional Engineering Achievement went to Carl Stoots. He was chosen for the award for his outstanding achievement in High Temperature Electrolysis for Syngas Production, which was issued a patent this year. This technology also received the 2007 Federal Laboratory Consortium Outstanding Technology Development Award and the  2007 Idaho Innovation Award. Throughout his 20-year career, he has held leadership and technical roles that have had a great impact. He has published over 150 publications and has numerous collaborations both nationally and internationally.

The Laboratory Award for Individual Lifetime Achievement in Science and Technology is presented to an employee who has made nationally and internationally recognized contributions to the advancement of a science or engineering field of study. This year, the award was presented to Gus Caffrey. Caffrey is best known for his development of the PINS technology, which won an R&D 100 award in 1992. This technology is used to analyze suspect containers and munitions that might hold chemical warfare agents, explosives or other dangerous substances. PINS is used by the armed forces of the United States, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Japan and the United Kingdom, and has been deployed to more than 50 domestic sites and 40 sites overseas.

The INL Technician of the Year Award celebrates the unsung heroes – the technicians that play a vital role throughout the lab. Technicians are nominated for the award by their co-workers. This year, Todd Morris was named the 2011 INL Technician of the Year.

(Published March 8, 2012)

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