Brenda Smith: New chances to contribute with chemistry

May 6, 2021

For years Brenda Smith found fulfillment working with nuclear batteries, a topic she’s been researching as a chemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

But she gets a different kind of charge out of her work in a new position in the lab’s Stable Isotope Research, Development, and Production Section.

In Stable Isotopes, Smith is one of several people concurrently researching the thermophysical properties of feedstock gas. Their research will support computational researchers who are designing processes to separate isotopes.

Microbes – Carbon to chemicals


A research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory bioengineered a microbe to efficiently turn waste into itaconic acid, an industrial chemical used in plastics and paints.

Producing itaconic acid currently involves fungi feeding on relatively pure sugars, which can be expensive. In ORNL’s demonstration, the team used lignin, a waste product from biorefineries and paper mills, to grow the bacterium Pseudomonas putida for potentially cheaper itaconic production.

Paula Cable-Dunlap: Assembling the nuclear mosaic

If a nation tries to hide a clandestine nuclear operation, Paula Cable-Dunlap and her team will give their all to help find it.

Just don’t call their work “nuclear CSI” – not where she can hear, at least.

U.S. Department of Energy’s INCITE program seeks proposals for 2022
U.S. Department of Energy’s INCITE program seeks proposals for 2022

Rich Giannone: Solving puzzles through proteins

Working at the nexus of biology and analytical chemistry, Rich Giannone focuses on one of the keys that makes advances in bioenergy, bioengineering and human health possible – proteins.

Giannone uses a suite of sophisticated equipment and capabilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to better understand this primary driver in biological systems.