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Jacklyn Gates ’04 earns prestigious White House Early Career Award

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Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2019

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Westminster College alumna Jacklyn Gates ’04, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is among 315 researchers named on July 2 by President Donald J. Trump to receive the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

This is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on early-career researchers.

As the Heavy Elements Group Leader in Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division, Gates has played a key role in the formation of a new program of experiments aimed at determining the masses and atomic numbers of super heavy elements, and the commissioning of a new heavy element mass separator, FIONA, to perform the first detailed studies of superheavy element masses and spectroscopy.

In 2016, Gates was awarded a DOE Early Career Research Award for her work, “Mass Measurements and Decay Spectroscopy of the Heaviest Elements,” culminating in the first direct measurements of the mass numbers for the nuclei of two superheavy elements: moscovium (element 115) and nihonium (element 113).

“We are very proud of Dr. Gates, but frankly not surprised to hear that she has been recognized as one of the top scientists in the country. Her work on superheavy elements is truly groundbreaking,” said Westminster College Professor of Chemistry Dr. Peter M. Smith. “We are very happy that Westminster College played a part in Dr. Gates’s development as a leading scientist. She is the best of Westminster.”

Gates earned her Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Westminster in 2004 and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. She held a postdoctoral fellow position in Germany at the Technical University of Munich before returning to Berkeley in 2010 to work in the nuclear laboratory. She will receive her certificate of accomplishment during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this summer.

The PECASE awards were established in 1996 and are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: Pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.