One minute with Donna Baek, a chemist at INL

Education background:

Ph.D. in chemistry from University of Idaho

“The best part of my job is being able to learn something new every day.”

Job description:

I use supercritical carbon dioxide, a sustainable solvent, to extract and separate targeted metals from various materials such as used nuclear fuel and end-of- life electronics. This work involves the study of metal-ligand complexes and uses high-pressure systems.

What led you to become a chemist?

I always knew I was going to be a scientist or engineer. As a child, I was interested in how things worked. When I was in high school, I excelled in math and science. I took the basic requirements such as biology and precalculus, but I went a step further and enrolled in special topic science classes like astronomy and genetics. It wasn’t until I was exposed to chemistry lab in college that I decided to pursue chemistry. That is where I applied what I learned from the classroom and put the pieces together. My general chemistry teacher inspired me to reach for the stars.

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