UC Davis Chemistry Student Selected to Conduct Research at DOE National Lab
Rachel Siegel profile photo
Rachel Siegel is among the 86 graduate students selected to participate in the Department of Energy's Office of Science Graduate Research (SCGSR) program. (Courtesy of Rachel Siegel)

A UC Davis chemistry graduate student has been selected to spend several months conducting research at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Rachel Siegel is among the 86 graduate students selected to participate in the Office of Science Graduate Research (SCGSR) program. According to the DOE, graduate students selected to participate in the program are working on research projects that address "critical energy, environmental and nuclear challenges at national and international scales.”  

“The Graduate Student Research program is a unique opportunity for graduate students to complete their Ph.D. training with teams of world-class experts aiming to answer some of the most challenging problems in fundamental science,” said Harriet Kung, acting director of the DOE Office of Science. “Gaining access to cutting-edge tools for scientific discovery at DOE national laboratories will be instrumental in preparing the next generation of scientific leaders.”

Siegel will conduct her research at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York as part of the “Basic Science for Clean Energy and Decarbonization” program. 

“This is an incredible opportunity and I am very excited about it,” said Siegel, who works in the lab of Professor Louise Berben, Department of Chemistry. “I am looking forward to experiencing what it is like to do research in a national laboratory and meet the scientists there who are doing amazing work in this field.” 

In the Berben Lab, Siegel studies the electrocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide, a process that converts excess amounts of the chemical compound into products of potential economic value, like formate, methane, ethylene and ethanol. Siegel is specifically interested in understanding the mechanism of this reaction. 

“At Brookhaven, I will have access to equipment and techniques, such as pulse radiolysis, that will allow me to study reaction intermediates on a shorter timescale than is possible here,” Siegel said. “With these techniques and the expertise of my mentor at BNL, we are hopeful that we will gain a greater understanding of our catalyst and its mechanism.”

Siegel will work at Brookhaven National Laboratory with chemist Dmitry Polyansky this September. She’ll conduct research at the lab through March 2025. 

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