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PNNL scientist garners early career presidential award
Date:7/10/2009

RICHLAND, Wash. -- A computational mathematician at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been recognized with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award honors his research on subsurface flow that addresses past and future energy needs: cleaning up buried nuclear or toxic contaminants and storing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels underground.

Announced by the White House, the PECASE is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers who are at the start of their careers.

"These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country," President Obama said. "With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world."

Alexandre Tartakovsky earned this award for his work trying to understand how contaminants move through the subsurface, that subterranean environment made of rocks, air, liquids like water or oil, and bacteria. Ultimately, such work will help reduce the impacts that nuclear and fossil fuel energy use have on the environment. Tartakovsky develops mathematical models to help researchers clean up nuclear contaminants from past practices or help future waste managers store carbon in the subsurface.

The models Tartakovksy works on are of fluids moving through the subterranean environment. He approached the problem not just from out of the box, but from out of this world. He has taken mathematical theories originally developed to understand the formation of stars and applied them to subsurface flow. The gases of a young star whirl around each other in fluid motion; so too do fluids meander through the subsurface.

Down below, the fluids made of gases and liquids -- air and water, for example -- react chemically with rocks and bacteria. Modeli
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Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnl.gov
509-375-3688
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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