Ames Lab Doctoral Student Receives Computational Science Fellowship


The Iowa State University chemistry student
only the school’s second graduate fellowship recipient

For release: April 27, 2009


Mark Gordon, Applied Mathematics
and Computational Sciences, Ames Laboratory, 515-294-0452

Mark Ingebretsen, Public Affairs, 515-294-3474


AMES -- Kurt Brorsen, a doctoral student in chemistry at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and at Iowa State University, recently received the DOE’s Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. The award is funded by the DOE’s Office of Science and National Nuclear Security Administration and intended to help bolster the ranks of talented scientists working in the United States.

“It’s extremely competitive,” Mark S. Gordon, director of the Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences program at the Ames Laboratory, said of the award. Gordon, who will serve as Brorsen’s doctoral advisor, is also an Ames Lab senior chemist and ISU distinguished professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Brorsen is the second student from Gordon’s group to receive the fellowship and also the second student from ISU to win it. The first was Heather Netzloff, a 2000 recipient, who currently is a postdoctoral associate at Ames Lab.

With support provided by the fellowship, Brorsen will work in an area with which few outside the scientific world are likely familiar. “My specialty is electronic structure theory, which is a subset of theoretical and computational chemistry,” the 24-year-old ISU student said.

Kurt Brorsen with his non-computational pastime -- Ultimate Frisbee

He hopes to use the Ames Laboratory’s leading-edge supercomputer resources to study the structure of silicon carbide. The work could eventually lead to more efficient and powerful electronic circuits.

CSGF recipients receive tuition, plus certain expenses along with an annual stipend of about $32,000. They also join an elite group composed of over 250 past winners, going back to 1991 when the award program began, which brings with it valuable networking opportunities and the chance for members to stay abreast of the groundbreaking research performed by their colleagues.

As part of the program, Brorsen will attend a yearly meeting of past and present winners in Washington, D.C., this summer. Brorsen was born in Stillwater, Okla. He did his undergraduate work in chemistry at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

When not immersed in chemistry research, Brorsen is a nationally competitive Ultimate Frisbee player. The team sport resembles rugby, with players tossing a flying disc in place of a ball. In 2008 Brorsen’s club team from Ames, Iowa, finished third nationally.

The DOE-funded CSGF award is administered by the Krell Institute, an Ames, Iowa-based firm that oversees a variety of educational programs in the area of advanced technology.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory operated for the DOE by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global challenges.