PNNL scientist receives $1M for research as distinguished fellow

A material science pioneer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is one of three to be named a 2020 distinguished scientist fellow by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

James “Jim” De Yoreo’s award includes $1 million in DOE funding over three years to pursue new research.

De Yoreo is a fellow and co-director of the Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry, and Technology, a research collaboration between PNNL and the University of Washington.

He is also deputy director for the Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales and a professor of materials science and engineering at UW.

The Distinguished Scientist Fellow program is authorized by the America COMPETES Act to develop, sustain, and promote scientific and academic excellence in Office of Science research through collaborations between institutions of higher education and national laboratories.

De Yoreo was cited for his research over the past 30 years, which has made an impact in fields as diverse as materials science, geochemistry, and biophysics. He has a particular focus on the science of interfaces.

“This award represents a tremendous honor,” he said. “More importantly, it provides me with an opportunity to make significant headway in understanding and controlling interfacial processes that underlie a vast array of natural phenomena and technological applications, from biofouling to electrical energy storage.”

His current research focuses on understanding and manipulating interactions, assembly, and crystallization in nanoparticle, biomolecule and mineral systems. 

De Yoreo and his team have pioneered self-assembling nanostructures such as these protein-based nanowires.

He has led prominent programs spanning the nation’s fundamental science agencies, including DOE, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

De Yoreo’s four U.S. patents and more than 270 publications have been cited over 17,500 times and his work has been recognized with many  awards and recognitions.

“DOE and PNNL have benefited greatly from Jim’s inspiring leadership in materials science. His unique ability to conduct groundbreaking research while fostering collaboration across disciplines and institutions merits this honor,” said Steven Ashby, PNNL lab director.

De Yoreo also is passionate about developing the next generation of scientists, having mentored more than 30 postdoctoral associates and 30 graduate students, as well as early- and mid-career staff. 

“Jim De Yoreo is a pioneer in fundamental materials science who has been at the forefront of research that has led to many innovations, from lasers to thermoelectrics to implantable devices. Additionally, his mentoring of students and early career scientists is an example to all. It is truly fitting that he has been recognized by this new and highly competitive award,” said Louis Terminello, PNNL associate lab director.

De Yoreo earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Colby College and his master’s and doctoral degrees in experimental physics from Cornell University.

He held several research positions at both Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories from 1989 until 2012, when he joined PNNL.

He has been on the graduate faculty in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry at the University of Washington since 2015. Additional honors include being named a Battelle Fellow for his career contributions that dramatically affected the conduct of his field, and receiving the prestigious David Turnbull Award from the Materials

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