Public Release: 

ORNL researchers Buchanan, Liang, Mayes named AAAS fellows

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory


IMAGE: The new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from Oak Ridge National Laboratory are, from the left, Michelle Buchanan, Liyuan Liang and Melanie Mayes. view more

Credit: ORNL

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. Nov. 24, 2014 -- Three staff members from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for scientific contributions that range from administrative leadership to discoveries in the environmental sciences.

Michelle Buchanan, Liyuan Liang and Melanie Mayes and are among those to receive this year's recognition to AAAS members by their peers. AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and elects fellows based on their distinguished contributions to the advancement of science or its applications.

Buchanan is ORNL's Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences, where she guides the Chemical Sciences, Materials Science and Technology and Physics divisions, as well as the Center for Nanophase Materials Science.

She was elected "for exceptional technical leadership and service in the chemical and physical sciences, and for contributions to setting the nation's research priorities."

Previously, Buchanan served as director of the Chemical Sciences Division and initiated and directed ORNL's Center for Structural Molecular Biology, which she directed from 1999 to 2003. Buchanan is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and has received an R&D 100 Award, ORNL Technical Achievement Awards and UT-Battelle R&D Leadership Awards.

She came to ORNL in 1978 after earning a chemistry degree from the University of Kansas and a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. She is the author or co-author of more than 150 scientific publications and reports, as well as a book about Fourier transform mass spectrometry. She holds two patents.

Liang currently directs ORNL's Office of Institutional Planning and manages the Laboratory's ARPA-E programs. She has served as chief scientist, group leader and distinguished research staff member in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division.

Liang was cited by the association "for leadership in understanding mercury transformation in the environment, leading to the discovery of mercury methylation genes in anaerobic bacteria."

A specialist in contaminant transformation in aquatic and sediment environments, she is co-editor of a book titled "Neutron applications in Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences," and author or co-author of more than 120 publications with nearly 3,500 citations. Liang received a degree in civil engineering from Northeastern University and a doctorate in environmental engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1988. She has held faculty positions at the University of South Carolina and University of Wales, Cardiff.

Mayes holds staff scientist positions in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division and Climate Change Science Institute and a joint faculty position with the University of Tennessee Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

She is recognized "for distinguished contributions to the field of soil hydrogeology, using experimentation to improve models of biogeochemical processes relevant to contaminant transport and organic carbon cycling."

Previous honors include ORNL's Stanley I. Auerbach Award for Excellence in Environmental Sciences and the University of Tennessee Earth and Planetary Science Young Alumna Award. The Soil Science Society of America Journal has named her an Associate Editor of Excellence, and her publications have garnered over 600 citations.

Mayes completed a bachelor's in geology at the University of Missouri and a master's and doctorate in geology from the University of Tennessee.

AAAS will recognize its newest fellows at the society's annual meeting in February and will publish their names in the journal Science.


UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. 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


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