PULLMAN, Wash. – For the second time in two years, a WSU graduate student has been honored in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research awards competition.
Derek Brigham, a Ph.D. student in the nationally ranked WSU radiochemistry group
was recognized for his research into the chemical behavior of lanthanides, a type of metal present in nuclear waste. Specifically, Brigham investigated a method of separating the lanthanides, known as “neutron poisons,” so that other longer-lived radioactive waste material can be transmuted into material with a shorter, more manageable, radioactive lifespan.
Brigham’s paper, entitled “Extraction of Trivalent Lanthanides and Americium by Tri-n-octylphosphine Oxide from Ammonium Thiocyanate Media,” was published in the journal Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange in March 2011.
Brigham earned his B.S. in chemistry at WSU in 2007 and is pursing a doctorate in inorganic radiochemistry. He is working with Professor Ken Nash on f-element kinetics.
WSU graduate students Jenifer Shafer and Travis Grimes won awards in 2010, the first year of the annual Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research competition.
The awards program supports the academic community’s vital role in helping develop advanced nuclear technologies that will sustain and expand nuclear power in the United States. The program is designed to: 1) award graduate and undergraduate students for innovative fuel-cycle-relevant research publications, 2) demonstrate the Office of Fuel Cycle Technologies’ commitment to higher education in fuel-cycle-relevant disciplines, and 3) support communications among students and DOE representatives.
Twenty-six prizes  were awarded in 2011 for student publications and presentations relevant to the nuclear fuel cycle.

Derek Brigham, WSU Chemistry, 509-335-5585, dbrigham@wsu.edu

Media contact:
Joanna Steward, College of Sciences, 509-335-3933, jsteward@wsu.edu