LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – An assistant professor of inorganic chemistry at New Mexico State University was named as a recipient of the United States Department of Energy Early Career Award.

Professor Cory Windorff is one of 93 early career scientists across the country selected to receive a combined total of $135 million in research funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for a wide range of topics. The DOE funding will provide $875,000 over the next five years to support Windorff’s research proposal titled “Probing Electronic Structure in Actinide-Transition Metal Nitride Clusters.”
“It’s important to understand the electronic structure of metals so we can design more efficient catalysts for industrial processes,” Windorff said. “We can look at activating molecules like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide or nitrogen and that can help to give us synthetic fuels or ammonia. These are very big in industrial processes. What we find could be a different way to access those.”

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Windorff also points to opportunities to build better magnets, which allow us to shrink hard drives to microscopic levels or could have potential impact on medical devices such as MRIs. “MRIs are great, but they require liquid helium to work and liquid helium is getting more and more scarce each year,” Windorff said. “If we can find different magnetic materials, maybe we will not need to use liquid helium for those.”

Windorff’s grant is among a handful received through the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The grant will also allow Windorff to hire a post-doctoral researcher and two graduate students as well as offer summer research opportunities for NMSU undergraduates.
“What excites me is that I can help train students to go work at national labs, especially local students or regional students who want to stay in the region,” Windorff said. “They can work with some of these elements, engage in research of these types of problems and find jobs in New Mexico.” Awardees were selected based on peer review by outside scientific experts.