Curiosity comes naturally to Tanya Prozorov. As a child growing up in Moscow and now as a DOE Office of Science Early Career Research award winner, the desire to find out how things work has always been a driving force.
“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to know how people come up with what to make things of,” Prozorov says. “I was always bugging my dad about what things were made of and he finally told me, ‘if that’s what interests you, then that’s what you need to pursue with your education.’”
She followed that advice, getting two masters degrees in physical chemistry: one from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys (now the National University of Science & Technology (NUST)), another from Bar-Ilan University, and a Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign under the supervision of well-known researcher Kenneth Suslick. After a short post doctoral research appointment at the University of South Carolina, Prozorov landed in Ames when her husband, Ruslan, was hired as a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa State University and a scientist at the Ames Laboratory.
Tanya started at the Lab as a post doc researcher, but now serves as an associate scientist. Research is her passion and she loves spending time in the laboratory.
“I’m not really interested in conventional classroom teaching,” Prozorov says. “Instead, I would love to put together a course in modern materials chemistry to emphasize the latest laboratory research techniques and instrumentation.”
Prozorov was selected for the Early Career award for a proposal to study the growth of nanoscale magnetic crystals in biological systems using a unique electron microscopy technique. Once this is understood, she hopes to able to grow such crystals in the lab and make better magnetic materials.
“I have several fundamental questions regarding the biomimetics, nanochemistry and nanomagnetism,” she says, “and I hope that my research will lead me to the answers.”
The Ames Laboratory is helping make that possible.
“I owe many thanks to many people at Ames Lab,” she explains. “I am new to tackling such a large project and receiving advice and guidance was a tremendous help and the facilities staff did a great job setting up the space. I was given the freedom to assemble a laboratory and funds to purchase the key equipment — a continuous flow liquid cell platform for the transmission electron microscope and a molecular printer for the specimen patterning.”
With two Ames Lab researchers living under the same roof, you might think the Prozorov family would talk shop about their discoveries, but that’s not always the case.
“We’re both very busy with our research so when we’re not working, we don’t have time to talk much about it,” Tanya says. “We spend most of our time at home with our five wonderful cats and our grown-up daughter. “Ruslan recently came to one of my presentations and I think he was surprised and interested in some of the work I’m doing.”
~ by Kerry Gibson