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UW’s Scougale One of 65 Graduate Students Nationwide Selected to DOE’s SCGSR Program

October 4, 2021
man working in a lab
William Scougale, a third-year UW Ph.D. student majoring in physics, loads a chromium single-crystal sample into the scanning tunneling microscope in the Chien Lab at UW. Scougale is one of 65 U.S. students nationwide to be selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program. He will conduct research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (Dinesh Baral Photo)

One University of Wyoming graduate student will receive the opportunity to conduct research at the prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) with world-class scientists.

William Scougale, a third-year Ph.D. student in the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, is one of 65 U.S. students nationwide to be selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program. The students come from 29 states.

The SCGSR program provides supplemental awards for graduate students to spend three to 12 consecutive months on-site at a DOE national laboratory or facility. Students conduct graduate thesis research in a priority research area while working side by side with a DOE laboratory scientist. The award provides support for inbound and outbound travel to the laboratory, and a monthly stipend of up to $3,000 for general living expenses while at the host DOE laboratory during the award period.

“Being offered this award is an honor because there are so few of them available among many disciplines and studies,” says Scougale, who grew up in Puyallup, Wash., but now calls Laramie home.

Scougale was selected for his project titled “Electronic Property Investigations of 2M WS2 Thin Flakes.” His research will examine the band structure of thin flakes of 2M phase tungsten disulfide, a unique phase of tungsten disulfide that hosts a superconducting phase and novel topological electronic states. The research focus will be on characterizing the electronic properties in flakes, ranging from tens of atomic layers of the material to as thin as two atomic layers, near and at the 2D limit. The electronic properties of materials can change dramatically in this range and behave differently. As an analogy, he says the electronic difference in that range can be as significant as the difference between folding a small stack of paper compared to folding one sheet of paper.

“My research focuses on exploring the 2D limits of a material called 2M phase tungsten disulfide, a newly realized material that could host Majorana fermions. Majorana fermions are quasi-particles that could be used to form quantum bits for topological quantum computing,” says Scougale, who received his bachelor’s degree in physics from UW.

His work at LBNL, which will run from Feb. 1-Nov. 18, 2022, falls under a broader study of the research he is conducting for his Ph.D. dissertation.

The goal of SCGSR is to prepare graduate students for science, technology, engineering or mathematics careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission by providing graduate thesis research opportunities through extended residency at DOE national laboratories. SCGSR research projects are expected to advance the graduate awardee’s overall doctoral thesis while providing access to the expertise, resources and capabilities available at the DOE laboratories/facilities.

The research projects proposed by the new awardees demonstrate strong alignment with the priority mission areas of the DOE Office of Science that have a high need for workforce development. The DOE SCGSR program plays an important role in sustaining a pipeline for highly skilled scientific and technological workforce development through providing new graduate research opportunities at DOE national laboratories.

Since 2014, the SCGSR program has provided more than 765 U.S. graduate awardees from 153 universities with supplemental funds to conduct part of their thesis research at a host DOE laboratory in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist.

Scougale credits his faculty adviser, TeYu Chien, a UW associate professor of physics and astronomy, as being an excellent source of knowledge and expertise in his field of research as well as in life overall.

“TeYu was my undergraduate research adviser, as well as my graduate adviser now, and has provided career and life guidance in addition to scientific education and direction,” Scougale says. “He consistently focuses on generating scientific insight with our work while demanding excellence in research technique, and supporting and enabling balance in work and other aspects of life, such as time with my wife. As we approach the time in Berkeley, he has been a crucial help in forming solid research plans and ensuring I am ready logistically to go and be successful in my time there.”

While at LBNL at the University of California, Scougale will work closely with Eli Rotenberg, a senior scientist at the Advanced Light Source, the synchrotron facility there.

“Eli Rotenberg will develop my expertise on the equipment and techniques available at their facility that are not available at UW,” Scougale says. “For my career, this is an excellent opportunity to learn complementary experimental techniques and build strong relationships with researchers outside of UW while getting to work at world-class facilities.”

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