Physics grad student awarded DOE support for research at national lab

Eli Nygren

Eli Nygren, a graduate student in physics at UC Santa Cruz, is among 78 outstanding U.S. graduate students to receive support from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program.

The SCGSR Program provides supplemental funds for graduate awardees to conduct part of their thesis research at a DOE national laboratory.

Nygren works in the laboratory of Sue Carter, professor of physics, and will use the award to conduct part of his research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. His research project involves generating hydrogen gas from water as a renewable and carbon-free fuel source for vehicles and electricity generation.

“It is possible to generate hydrogen gas by superheating water in the presence of a catalytic material, and the heat can be provided by concentrated sunlight, making for an entirely carbon-free process,” Nygren explained. “At NREL, I will be investigating a promising candidate for the catalytic material, Barium-Cerium/Manganese-Oxide (BCM).”

SCGSR awardees work on research projects of significant importance to the Office of Science (SC) mission and that address societal challenges at national and international scale. The research projects are expected to advance the graduate awardees’ overall doctoral research and training while providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at the DOE laboratories. Awardees were selected from a diverse pool of graduate applicants from institutions around the country. Selection was based on merit peer review by external scientific experts.

“Now more than ever we need to invest in a diverse, talented pipeline of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who can continue this legacy of excellence,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “I’m thrilled that these outstanding students will help us tackle mission-critical research at our labs, and I can’t wait to see what their futures hold.”

More information on SCGSR can be found online at