INL News Release
Jan. 31, 2013

Misty Benjamin, 208-526-5940,
Reuel Smith, 208-526-3733,

Two scientists earn laboratory's highest scientific designation

IDAHO FALLS — A physicist and a materials scientist with six decades of combined research and development experience have been selected as Idaho National Laboratory Fellows.

A.J. "Gus" Caffrey and Richard N. Wright have joined the elite ranks held by only nine others at the U.S. Department of Energy’s INL. Selection as a Laboratory Fellow is the lab's top scientific achievement designation and recognizes an individual's outstanding contributions to the scientific and engineering community.

"Laboratory Fellows are the scientific leaders of the laboratory who have achieved a national and international reputation as authorities in their area of expertise," wrote Caffrey's manager, David Ceci, in his nomination letter.

Caffrey earned a doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University specializing in gamma ray and neutron spectroscopy. During his 32-year tenure at INL, he led the development of several transformative technologies. The Portable Isotopic Neutron Spectroscopy (PINS) system nondestructively discerns the contents of munitions that may contain chemical warfare agents. It earned an R&D 100 Award 20 years ago and is used around the world today. Caffrey is also advancing an invention that can passively verify the contents of nuclear fuel casks.

Wright earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in metallurgical engineering from Michigan Technological University. During his 27-year tenure at INL, he has led several research efforts and the lab's Materials Science Department. He currently leads a team characterizing potential metals for applications in very high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant High Temperature Metals Research and Development Program.

Caffrey has consulted at the International Atomic Energy Agency, served on two national DOE panels, and is an original member of the U.S. Army's Munitions Assessment Review Board, which cannot lawfully meet unless an INL PINS scientist is present. Caffrey's work is documented in 42 peer-reviewed journal articles, including eight papers in the influential Physical Review Letters. He also has prepared 12 external reports, seven conference proceedings and invited conference papers, and holds two patents relating to his research.

"Gus is impressive not only in his scientific achievement and recognition, but also in his leadership here at the laboratory," said John Dwight, director of INL's Nuclear Nonproliferation Division. "His passion for overall excellence is why his sponsors and peers hold him in such high regard."

Wright has contributed and influenced the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy University Program, its Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program and the Metals Working Group for the Generation IV International Forum on Very High Temperature Reactors, for which he chairs the management board. He has published 62 journal articles, 50 conference proceedings and nonreviewed articles, and holds seven patents.

"Dr. Wright has exhibited both a national and international influence," wrote his manager, Tim Roney, in a nomination letter. "It is important to recognize Dr. Wright's unselfish capacity to respond to the needs of the INL and his ability to change directions as needed to provide the greatest service to the laboratory."

The other nine INL Fellows are William Apel, James Delmore, J. Stephen Herring, Paul Meakin, Giuseppe Palmiotti, David Petti, Joy Rempe, Herschel Smartt and Terry Todd.

A candidate for Laboratory Fellow is recommended by the employee’s manager to the Fellows Promotion Committee, which reviews promotion packages. The packages include data on individual contributions, professional achievements, leadership positions held in technical organizations, letters of recommendation and an evaluation of the person’s overall impact. Selection as an INL Laboratory Fellow equates to being named to an endowed chair at a major university, an elite member of a professional society or a member of a national academy.

INL is one of the DOE's 10 multiprogram national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE's strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation's leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

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