Grace Arntz-Johnson receives U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research Award

Grace Arntz-Johnson

Grace Arntz-Johnson, a Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, has received the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) award.

The award supports research opportunities at DOE laboratories for graduate students pursuing critical energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges.

Arntz-Johnson, a student in the interdisciplinary Materials Science and Engineering program, investigates the basic chemistry of Neptunium — a large contributor to the long-term radiotoxicity of used nuclear fuel.

“Understanding the structure and behavior of Neptunium is imperative for developing proper storage and handling methods of nuclear waste,” said Arntz-Johnson.

The award will support Arntz-Johnson’s six-month research residency at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where she will collaborate with DOE scientist Ana Arteaga.

“We’ll be manipulating the amounts and origins of peroxide and hydroxide in a range of compounds in order to better understand how Neptunium behaves in different environments,” said Arntz-Johnson. “I’m very excited for this opportunity to work with Dr. Arteaga.”

“Grace’s research will help us understand some of the most complex elements that exist, in particular, how bonds in the heaviest elements create new and unexpected materials,” said Arntz-Johnson’s advisor, Peter Burns, Henry J. Massman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences.

“Her hard work and determination have placed her amongst the elite graduate students in the nation. And this DOE award demonstrates that.”

— Karla Cruise, Notre Dame College of Engineering; Photo by Wes Evard