Barbara Hughes grew up and attended high school less than 20 miles from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and earned her doctorate at the nearby University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder—so it may not be too surprising that she has gravitated to the lab.
She's currently in NREL's Research Participant Program (RPP) pursuing battery research—her second stint at the lab. The RPP offers opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers to work at the lab under the mentorship of experts in solar and wind energy, biofuels, building technologies, and other fields.
Earlier, while at CU, Hughes worked part time with renowned NREL scientist Art Nozik on quantum dots and an innovative approach to boosting the efficiency of photovoltaic solar cells. Realizing that the more she learned across disciplines, the more marketable she would be in her field, Hughes applied last year for a highly competitive RPP postdoc position that gave her the opportunity to join a lithium-ion battery project. She's investigating fundamental charge transfer in electrode materials.
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