Carlos Manuel Diaz, a doctoral candidate in computational science at The University of Texas at El Paso, is one of 70 graduate students from across the country selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to take part in the agency’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program.
Through the SCGSR program, Diaz will receive supplemental funds to conduct part of his thesis research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, beginning this summer.
While there, Diaz hopes to enhance his knowledge in computational chemistry methods while working alongside John Pask, Ph.D., a physicist in the Livermore lab’s Physical and Life Sciences Directorate. He expects to implement a method for electron self-interaction correction utilizing the lab’s computational chemistry software.
“My initial reaction was a lot of nervousness,” Diaz said of being selected to the program.
“This will be a very different experience from what I’m used to and I’m hoping I can get some good work done there. The opportunity will give me new research and results to add to my dissertation. It also gives me access to the experience of working in a research setting at a very large national lab. Hopefully, this will help me cement the idea that this kind of lab setting is really what I want to do, and the experience will hopefully open up opportunities to work there or at other DOE labs in the future.”
The Los Angeles native, who moved to the El Paso area at age 10 and graduated from Clint High School, is currently a graduate researcher in UTEP’s Electronic Structure Laboratory with Tunna Baruah, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Physics Department, and Rajendra Zope, Ph.D., professor of physics. When he returns from California in December, he hopes to complete his dissertation and defend soon after. Diaz hopes to work in a laboratory after completing his doctorate.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said the experience afforded to Diaz and the program’s other awardees will be critical in their future careers.
“These graduate student awards prepare young scientists for STEM careers critically important to the DOE mission,” Perry said. “We are proud of the accomplishments these outstanding awardees have already made, and look forward to following their achievements in years to come. They represent the future leadership and innovation that will allow American science and engineering to excel in the 21st century.”