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Ames Laboratory Ph.D. student is awarded Margaret Butler Fellowship


AMES, Iowa – U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University PhD student Colleen Bertoni has been named this year's recipient of the Margaret Butler Fellowship in Computational Science.

Bertoni will spend 2017 at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE user facility at Argonne National Laboratory.

"This is a great opportunity, and I'm looking forward to doing research at the ALCF," said Bertoni.

Bertoni, who will graduate from Iowa State University in December 2016, will work as a post doctoral fellow at the ALCF, where she will advance her quantum chemistry studies of liquid water and ion solvation by employing and optimizing ab initio-based fragmentation methods on the facility's supercomputers.

Bertoni was a 2009 participant in the DOE Office of Science's Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program at Ames Laboratory, After completing her SULI internship, Bertoni became a graduate student in Ames Laboratory scientist Mark Gordon's quantum theory group, where her research has been to derive the expression for the analytical gradient of the effective fragment molecular orbital method, coding it in GAMESS, and applying the method to demonstrate its energy-conversion properties in dynamical simulations.

"This is a significant award for Collen," said Gordon. "We are very proud of her accomplishment and look forward to her continued research success."

The SULI program supports paid internships for undergraduates in science and engineering at DOE laboratories. The students work with laboratory staff scientists and engineers on projects related to ongoing research programs.

Commenting on her SULI experience at Ames Laboratory, Bertoni said, "I think it's really helpful for students to experience how research gets done in practice. Mark and other mentors in the SULI program are able to show undergraduates that scientific research is something they can do and something they can get excited about. This experience helps research become a potential career path."

The ALCF fellowship began in 2014 and honors the lifetime achievements of Margaret Butler, a pioneering researcher in both computer science and nuclear energy. Butler served as director of Argonne's National Energy Software Center and was the first female Fellow of the American Nuclear Society.


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

Ames Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

Note: Ames Laboratory thanks the ALCF for material used in this release.

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