2014 Award Recipients


Two Idaho National Laboratory researchers and a Brigham Young University-Idaho chemistry professor have been selected as recipients of the Idaho Academy of Science achievement awards for 2014.

The three award recipients and their respective award designation are: Troy Unruh, Outstanding New Investigator Award, and Bruce Mincher, Distinguished Scientist/Engineer, both of INL, as well as Hector Becerril, Distinguished Science Communicator. They were honored Monday evening, March 24th, at the IANS banquet in Idaho Falls.

Unruh is a research and development engineer at INL’s High Temperature Test Laboratory. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas State University and is working on his doctoral degree at Idaho State University. He has made great strides in the areas of in-pile instrumentation during his earlier career years at INL. His efforts have expanded the mission of the INL Advanced Test Reactor Critical Facility, deploying new fixtures that allow researchers to evaluate and calibrate neutron flux detectors for use as in-pile instrumentation. He is the co-recipient of an R&D 100 award for his graduate research and has already received several INL awards. He has authored or co-authored more than 20 peer-reviewed publications. He is active in the American Nuclear Society and served on the Idaho ANS board of directors.

Mincher is a Nuclear Science and Technology Directorate Fellow at INL. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from State University of New York and master’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of Idaho. He has established himself as an expert in actinide solvent extraction, radiochemical separations, radionuclide behavior in the environment and radiation chemistry of organic compounds. He has received five U.S. patents, with two more pending, and published more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. He received a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award in 2010 (Best Instructional Programming) for his role in development of the coast Learning Systems Program titled “Understanding Chemistry on our World.”

Becerril is a faculty member in the Chemistry Department at Brigham Young University-Idaho. He has a BSc in Industrial Chemistry from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a PhD in Chemistry from BYU, and a post-doc in chemical engineering from Stanford University in the optimization of organic semiconductors and photovoltaics. He teaches physical chemistry, general chemistry and computer programming. He is responsible for continuing development of the BYU-I R&CW conference, an open-to-the-public venue where junior and senior students present and defend their academic work before peers and judges in a way that simulates a job interview. He is author or coauthor of 30 peer reviewed scientific articles and holds two US patents. His professional activities include being the 2013 chair of the Idaho Section of the ACS and serving as a reviewer of various scientific journals of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.