STEM Professional of the week

Brenda L. Garcia-Diaz, Ph.D.      
Savannah River National Laboratory

As an emergent leader with a passion for energy related issues, Dr. Brenda L. Garcia-Diaz has an innovative and motivating ability to find new methods of approaching challenging problems. The technically sound and talented researcher, is currently a Senior Scientist for the Materials Performance and Corrosion Technology group at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) where she is establishing that with abundant supplies of energy, people can desalinate and purify water, have affordable transportation, make useful products and power electronic devices that can be used for communication.

Dr. Garcia-Diaz began her career with SRNL by working on the synthesis of novel hydrogen storage materials. Within a year, working with the Principal Investigator, demonstrated electrochemical synthesis and methods to separate and purify the alane product. In her current role, she incorporates conventional engineering or scientific practices, a variety of complex technical requirements, and the application of new or special materials or processes into problem solving and program planning. Dr. Garcia-Diaz is leading an LDRD strategic initiative project to develop electrochemical fluorination for used nuclear fuel reprocessing. Her most significant achievement to date is the 2012 award of a 3-year, $4 million proposal from the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative. Dr. Garcia-Diaz is the Principal Investigator on this collaborative national effort which aims to drive solar energy to be cost-competitive with other energy sources by 2020.

Described by her peers as "engaging and gregarious," Dr. Garcia-Diaz uses those same qualities to captivate and mentor her research team and graduates from her alma mater. Proactive in helping younger generations understand the benefits of studying STEM fields, she shares her enthusiasm and creativity for science and technology with students in the community. Amazed by the activities and tasks that imaginative elementary school students can take part of, such as the FIRST Lego League Robotics Program, she encourages youth to participate in creative activities that expand their understanding of science, exercise their artistic talents, and strengthen their problem solving abilities. Dr. Garcia-Diaz strongly believes that encouraging future generations of scientists and engineers is a fundamental responsibility for those currently working in the field.

The Puerto Rico native graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering and a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez, as well as a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina. She is the co-author on over 10 patent disclosures and applications.

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