Sandia LabNews

Truman Fellowship Program announces scholars for 2006


When Sandia National Laboratories opened in 1949, President Harry S. Truman charged the independent laboratory with the mission to perform “exceptional service in the national interest.” Since then, those words have been the driving principle behind the work carried out at the Labs.

Today, Sandia honors the memory of President Truman’s challenge through the prestigious President Harry S. Truman Fellowship in National Security Science and Engineering. Currently in its third year, the program is a three-year appointment that allows scholars to perform postdoctoral research in their proposed topic area. That research must be related to national security and address a major scientific or engineering problem, or provide a new approach or insight to a major problem, thereby impacting their field of study.

This year’s recipients are Whitney Colella and Hung (Jacques) Loui, who join the distinguished ranks of the five previous Truman Fellows (Lab News, June 25, 2004; May 27, 2005).

“We’re proud to provide some of the world’s finest research opportunities to these truly outstanding Truman Fellows,” says Sandia VP and Chief Technology Officer Rick Stulen (1000). “Whitney and Jacques epitomize the best coming out of our universities and I’m confident they will both make important discoveries and contributions during their time at Sandia.”

Whitney and Jacques were selected out of the many applications received from universities across the nation, including Princeton, University of California-Berkeley, Georgia Tech, MIT, Stanford, University of Texas-Austin, and others.

Whitney Colella

Whitney has an outstanding academic record with a BS in mechanical engineering and a minor in public policy from Princeton, an MS in science and public policy from Sussex, an MS in mechanical engineering from Stanford, an MBA from Oxford, and a DPhil in engineering science from Oxford. She has been recognized with British Marshall, Fulbright, National Science Foundation, T.J. Watson, Gilbreath, and Overseas Research scholarships and fellowships.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to conduct research at Sandia,” she says. “Pursuing my proposed research at Sandia under the Truman Fellowship was my first choice among several options. I am extremely impressed with Sandia as a national lab — especially its engineering focus. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with some of the best researchers in the country. I have really enjoyed getting to know a few Sandians and am impressed with how down-to-earth, genuine, and intelligent they are.”

Whitney’s PhD thesis was an original experimental systems model of fuel cells that considered heating, cooling, and the use of by-product heat. She developed concepts and control strategies that challenge conventional analysis of fuel cells and show that, with imaginative design, they have more immediate commercial potential than generally thought. One of her recommendations was adopted by DaimlerChrysler’s fuel cell subsidiary. She has also designed an integrated fuel cell power and heating system for the Stanford campus. As an undergraduate, she developed and built the world’s first fuel cell-assisted bicycle.

“One of the best parts of the Truman Fellowship is that it lets me conduct research of my own choosing, for three years, in conjunction with experts in related fields,” Whitney says. “Because of the flexibility of the fellowship, I will have the opportunity to work with researchers in both the Homeland Security Systems and Development Department and the Biological and Energy Sciences Department, in both Livermore and Albuquerque.”

Whitney has co-edited a book, written two book chapters, and published eight journal articles. She has given 25 lecture presentations and presented 15 posters.

Hung (Jacques) Loui

Jacques comes to Sandia with an impressive academic record, particularly considering that as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, he double-majored in electrical engineering and piano performance. He won a number of prestigious piano competitions before focusing on engineering research. His graduate record in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado is near-perfect and is demonstrated by a number of scholarships and fellowships, including a Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Fellowship.

“Having seen the quality of people and the kinds of research being conducted at Sandia National Laboratories, I am deeply honored to be chosen as one of this year’s recipients,” Jacques says. “Sandia is second to none. I was impressed by every aspect of it and did not want to leave — especially after discovering the library.”

In his PhD work, Jacques tackled a longstanding, unsolved problem in quantitatively describing the radio frequency characteristics of thick metal surfaces with arbitrary inclusions. To solve this problem, he developed, implemented, and tested an efficient computational method, which is a significant advance in the state-of-the-art for frequency-selective surface modeling. This formulation allows for the analysis of complex periodic and aperiodic structures over an extended frequency range. Jacques’ research has immediate applications to antenna and radome structures, and his analysis method appears suitable and unique for a wide range of other applications, such as active switching and steering.

“My research will produce new types of periodic and aperiodic metal/dielectric surfaces and their associated electro-optical processing systems supporting the needs of Sandia,” Jacques says. “This fellowship will allow me to collaborate with the expertise from on-going research in this technology at Sandia.”

Jacques has an extensive record of research contributions, including work with NASA and collaborations abroad with the Universidad de Buenos Aires. He has three publications in distinguished journals, and three conference presentations, two of which were at the IEEE Antenna and Propagation conference.

Truman Fellowship Committee

Each year, the Truman Selection Committee is made up of senior scientists who volunteer their time to review, rank, and interview applicants. This year’s members include Ron Loehman, Chair (1815), Patrick V. Brady (6118), Jeff Brinker (1002), David Chandler (8350), David Gartling (1500), Lyndon Pierson (5616), Larry Rahn (8350), and Anita Renlund (2550). Final selection is made by Chief Technology Officer Rick Stulen (1000).

Sandia’s University Research Office and Human Resources/University Partnerships teamed more than three years ago to create the new postdoctoral position and guide the processes necessary to implement the prestigious position.

Previous Truman Fellowship recipients: Youssef Marzouk (8351), Gregory Nielson (1769), Ilke Arslan (8756), Meeko Oishi (6226), and David Scrymgeour (1114).