News Release

Six Argonne researchers recognized as 2019 Distinguished Fellows

Grant and Award Announcement

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne 2019 Distinguished Fellows

image: Paul Kearns (Director of Argonne National Laboratory), Valerie Taylor, Esen Ecran Alp, Salman Habib, Robert Hill, Christopher Johnson, Stephen Pratt view more 

Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

Six leading researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have received international recognition in being named as Argonne Distinguished Fellows.

Esen Ercan Alp, Salman Habib, Robert Hill, Christopher Johnson, Stephen Pratt and Valerie Taylor have all received this exemplary recognition, and their selections exemplify Argonne’s efforts to honor its world-class community of talent. Argonne Distinguished Fellows represent only three percent of research staff at the facility, making the award the highest scientific and engineering rank at the laboratory. The new fellows have earned international recognition for their work and demonstrate the type of leadership that enables Argonne to accelerate science and technology for U.S. prosperity and security.

Esen Ercan Alp

Esen Ercan Alp is a senior physicist in the X-ray Science division. He joined Argonne as a postdoctoral associate in the Materials Science division, and subsequently became assistant physicist in the X-ray Scattering group. Dr. Alp moved to the Advanced Photon Source (APS) project in 1990 to lead the development of the 3-ID beamline for nuclear resonant and inelastic X-ray scattering. From 1999-2003 he was the group leader for the inelastic scattering group. During this time, he was responsible for the design and construction of a novel groundbreaking beamline for high-resolution inelastic scattering measurements at 30-ID.

His research has focused on the development of nuclear resonance scattering techniques and applying them to problems in condensed matter physics, geophysics and biochemistry. He has co-authored over 310 publications, which have been cited more than 8,800 times. He has been extensively involved in international scientific outreach efforts through the American Physical Society, including participation in the SEASAME synchrotron project in Amman, Jordan.

Dr. Alp is a member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences and was named one of the 100 best Turkish scientists in the world by the president of Turkey. He was recently named the 2019 winner of the IBAME Science Award, given every two years to one of the top Mössbauer spectroscopists world-wide. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in metallurgy and materials science from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and a Ph.D. in physics from Southern Illinois University, where his thesis focused on using Mössbauer spectroscopy to understand metallic glasses.

Salman Habib

Salman Habib is director of the Computational Science division and interim deputy director of the High Energy Physics division. He holds a joint position in Argonne’s Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) directorate, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, and the Northwestern Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering (NAISE).

His contributions cover a broad span of research, ranging from quantum field theory and quantum information to the formation of cosmological structure. For the last three decades, Dr. Habib has been very interested in the intelligent application of parallel supercomputers to attacking physics problems; he leads the ExaSky applications project within DOE’s Exascale Computing Project. He has been deeply involved in efforts — with cosmology as the primary arena — to apply advanced statistical methods and machine learning techniques to complex inference problems. Dr. Habib is a member of the Dark Energy Survey Instrument (DESI) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) cosmological surveys, and a member of NASA’s SPHEREx project’s science team.

Dr. Habib is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He completed his undergraduate work at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He was a postdoc at the University of British Columbia, and later, a postdoc and staff member in the Theoretical division at Los Alamos National Laboratory before joining Argonne in 2011.

Robert Hill

Robert Hill leads advanced nuclear energy research and development within the Nuclear Science and Engineering division. He has worked at Argonne for over 25 years with research focused on reactor physics, fast reactor core design, plutonium disposition, and waste management. He previously led Nuclear Engineering division research groups working on reactor physics analysis, advanced modeling and simulation, fuel cycle and systems dynamics modeling, criticality safety, and nuclear data.

Dr. Hill is national technical director for multi-laboratory advanced reactor research and development activities in current DOE programs. This work includes small modular reactors, advanced structural materials, energy conversion technology, safety and licensing, and system integration. Dr. Hill is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society. He completed his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at Purdue University in 1987.

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a senior chemist and group leader in the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division. He has over 25 years of experience in the field of energy storage and is a technical expert in lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries materials and their research and development. He was a postdoc at the laboratory from 1992-1994 and began his career at Argonne in 1997 as a chemist.

Dr. Johnson is well known globally for his development of state-of-art lithium-ion battery cathode materials and emerging sodium-ion batteries. He has authored over 115 publications, and has 24 issued U.S. patents in the battery field. He received the research award from the International Battery Association in 2006 and a R&D-100 Award for the commercialization of lithium battery materials in 2009. He was named a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society in 2017. Presently, he is past-chair of the Electrochemical Society Battery division, and has been a member of the Electrochemical Society since 1993. He received the 2018 University of Chicago-Argonne LLC Distinguished Performance Award, and the Argonne Commercialization Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award.  He holds a B.S. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern University.

Stephen Pratt

Stephen Pratt is a senior chemist, and a department head and group leader within the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division at Argonne.

The Gas-Phase Chemical Dynamics group that he leads is primarily focused on developing the foundations for predictive models of combustion chemistry. The group currently includes 12 staff scientists and a complement of postdoctoral fellows, part-time employees, students and visitors. A significant aspect of this group is the strong interactions between theoretical and experimental efforts.

Dr. Pratt started at Argonne as a postdoctoral appointee. Then he became an assistant chemist and a chemist. Currently, he is a senior chemist, group leader of the Gas-Phase Chemical Dynamics group, and division theme leader for Fundamental Interactions. His research involves the study of photoionization and photodissociation dynamics as a means of learning about how energy flows among the internal degrees of freedom in highly energized molecules.

Dr. Pratt is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has written approximately 150 refereed journal articles, with a focus on experimental studies of the photodissociation and photoionization dynamics of small molecules. He has a BA in chemistry from Bennington College and an MS in chemistry, MPhil, and Ph.D. from Yale University.

Valerie Taylor

Valerie Taylor is the director of the Mathematics and Computer Science division. She received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991. She then joined the faculty in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at Northwestern University, where she was a member of the faculty for 11 years. While at Northwestern, she held a guest appointment with Argonne’s MCS division and collaborated on research in performance analysis and modeling of parallel applications and on experiments with interactive immersive visualization.

In 2003, she joined Texas A&M, where she served as head of the computer science and engineering department and senior associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering and a Regents Professor and the Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science. While at Texas A&M, she continued her collaborations with Argonne, exploring advanced reservations of distributed computational resources. In 2011 she spent a summer sabbatical at Argonne, collaborating with researchers from Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility on the development of a framework for modeling workload behavior.

Her research focuses in the areas of performance analysis and modeling of parallel, scientific applications. One of her major accomplishments was the development of the Prophesy performance analysis infrastructure, which included a component for generating performance models as well as a database to archive performance data, execution system features, application details, and model data. Prophesy was leveraged to develop MuMMI to explore the tradeoffs between execution time and power requirements of parallel, scientific applications. Currently, she is focused on the areas of performance analysis, power analysis and resiliency. Dr. Taylor is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s 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, visit


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