Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Deputy laboratory director nationally recognized for inclusive leadership excellence

Juan Alvarez, Idaho National Laboratory deputy laboratory director for Management and Operations and chief operations officer, has earned a Leadership Excellence Award from the National Diversity Council. The award recognizes individuals from diverse fields who exhibit exceptional leadership qualities and foster a positive and inclusive work environment. Winners must have an extraordinary track record of developing, growing and improving organizations, while serving as a role model for others.

In Alvarez’s time at INL, he has prioritized creating access to opportunities to innovate and improve the lab’s mission and goals. He’s also shown how inclusive diversity is critical to building an empowered workforce that sustains INL’s competitive advantage and helps the community grow.

“Juan is changing the world for the better and inspiring others with his work,” said Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, executive director of INL’s Versatile Test Reactor program and executive sponsor of the Multiculturals in Leadership council. “Recognitions like this further solidify INL’s visibility and reputation as an employer of choice and as an organization that empowers, supports and employs incredible people.”

In addition to his deputy lab director and chief operations officer roles, Alvarez also serves as co-chair of INL’s Executive Inclusion Council, where members provide visible support and strategic insight into where the lab is going to ensure deliberate inclusion actions for effective end results. During his tenure at the laboratory, Alvarez has helped embed visible diversity, inclusive thought leadership and employment equity across INL’s workforce, supply chain and charitable giving. He has also championed INL’s efforts to become a national employer of choice for women, people of color, people with disabilities, military veterans and the LGBTQ+ community.

Alvarez’s inclusive leadership goes beyond the walls of the lab. He also chairs the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs and co-chairs the city of Idaho Falls’ Connecting Us, Sustaining Progress initiative. Alvarez was honored at the 17th Annual National Diversity and Leadership Conference. See a full list of the Leadership Excellence honorees here.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Two eastern Idaho women named 2021 Top Women of the Year

Congratulations to Toni Karlsson and Marcella Medor, two women from Eastern Idaho honored by the Idaho Business Review as 2021 Top Women of the Year.

Medor, president and founder of MarCom, and Karlsson, a research scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, were among the 50 women chosen out of a field of more than 150 nominees. Both will be honored Sept. 30 at the Boise Centre during the 2021 Women of the Year gala.

Medor, a member of the Abenaki Tribe, founded MarCom in 2003. Today, the company is a Small Business Administration-certified, Native American-owned and woman-owned business with offices in Idaho Falls and Butte, Mont., providing management, administrative, engineering, nuclear operations, and health-and-safety services to Department of Energy (DOE) sites around the nation, with 90% of their

work coming from INL. To read more, follow this link: 

An Inside Look at INL’s Partnership with MarCom, LLC

Karlsson started working at INL in January 2019. She holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from Chalmers University of Technology, She earned her master’s in nuclear engineering and her bachelor’s in materials engineering from University of Idaho. Her research involves thermal properties of molten salts used for electrorefining spent nuclear fuel.

Here is a 2020 video of her talking about Molten Salt Reactor research activities at INL:

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

INL researchers help develop irrigation modernization tool

Modernization of irrigation of the West's aging irrigation system has been identified as a way to conserve water, produce power and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Reinvestment in the nation’s irrigation systems has numerous benefits. It can simultaneously promote the economic well-being of farmers and rural communities, generate more renewable energy, and advance environmental stewardship. Plus, such efforts could cut carbon emissions in the farm sector, a priority for the U.S. departments of Energy and Agriculture, as our nation works to combat climate change.
That’s why the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), Idaho National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a new software tool, IrrigationViz, to help analyze the costs and benefits of irrigation modernization.
Irrigation technology has developed to the point where pressurized pipes can deliver water for irrigation while generating in-conduit hydropower that can be used to power electric pumps that currently rely on diesel, and in the future, also power electric tractors and combines. The rights of way for these pipes can also be used for fiberoptic cable, bringing broadband to rural areas that may currently not have high-speed internet options.
INL and PNNL’s IrrigationViz is a decision support and visualization tool that enables users to estimate how much water is lost by the current system, how much water would be saved by specific investments, and how much hydropower potential there is in the system. It also estimates higher value crops that could be planted based on the improved water reliability, water purification and habitat benefits of including wetlands, and connectivity between surface and groundwater sources.

This tool can help interested parties produce master plans, enabling them to identify the highest priority projects for their system. Using a combination of public and local data and geographic information systems, the tool helps irrigators produce the plans needed to access federal funding programs, such as those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The purpose of the tool is to help communities identify the system designs that are right for them,” said Thomas Mosier, INL’s Energy Systems group lead. “The hope is that our tool can help stakeholders identify opportunities to achieve benefits for farmers, local communities and the environment. There used to be this one-size-fits-all modernization paradigm. The approach we’re seeing today is much more nuanced to the local context.”

The two national labs began collaborating in 2018 to find ways that hydropower could enable modernization benefits nationwide and especially across the Western United States, said PNNL researcher Bo Saulsbury.

“It’s really exciting to provide a tool to help assess and realize both short- and long-term benefits,” he said. “Near-term returns include more local jobs, higher profits for farmers, investments in rural communities and increased water supply for various uses. Reducing the carbon footprint of agricultural operations, increasing renewable energy generation and promoting environmental sustainability and community resilience are examples of long-term benefits.”

Federal investment in water and irrigation projects dates back nearly 150 years and is in large part responsible for establishing the rural economy in the United States. A vast system of reservoirs, canals, headgates, levees and culverts provides water to roughly 18.7 million acres of farmland, serving one-third of the U.S. population and generating half of the nation’s total crop revenue.

Since the early 1970s, however, the country’s irrigation infrastructure has remained largely unchanged. Billions of dollars are lost every year by a system that, on average, loses about 30% of its water to seepage and evaporation. Meanwhile, the demand for water has grown, not just from irrigators but conservationists, recreationists, industry and municipalities.

Agriculture is a major user of groundwater and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 37% of the nation's consumptive water use and 80% in the West. Efficient irrigation systems and water management practices can help maintain farm profitability in an era of increasingly limited and more costly water supplies.

Recognizing the economic constraints many canal companies and farmers face, WPTO is committed to offering irrigators the decision-making resources they need before they move forward with critical investments.

Monday, June 21, 2021

New Italian restaurant coming to Idaho Falls Greenbelt

A friend of mine who recently moved here commented to me that Idaho Falls didn’t have a “real” Italian restaurant. No offense, but Johnny Carino’s and Olive Garden didn’t count in her view. I had to explain the whole Olive Garden saga, and how it was front page news when the announcement came. But I understood what she was saying.

Little did we know as we spoke that a new Italian restaurant offering authentic cuisine was in the works. Mama Fla, Authentic Italian Cuisine, is eying an opening in the next few weeks at 385 River Parkway, next to the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Flaminia Cantelli is registered as the owner. She and her husband, Marco Assirelli, are from Rome and moved to Idaho Falls less than two years ago when he opened a North American division of Sensor Medica, a company that makes equipment and software for biomechanical analysis and foot orthotics.

As they have been remodeling the property Mama Fla has been serving food at the Idaho Falls Farmers Market. The projected menu will include fettuccine, linguine, lasagne, gnocchi and rigatoni with different types of sauces. Most of it is what you find around Rome, but the lasagne is from Bologna, in northeastern Italy, and they will also be serving risotto, a northernwestern Italian rice dish.

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Take-out and delivery options will be available to customers as well.

Their web page is www.mamafla.com and their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Mama-Fla-102018922059757/.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Phillips named Bank of Idaho retail banking v.p.

Jarod Phillips
Bank of Idaho has named Jarod Phillips vice president of retail banking, a promotion from his position as vice president/senior branch banking officer.

"Since before I arrived here, Jarod has been a key player in this bank's trajectory," said Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard. "As VP of Retail Banking, he'll be able to capitalize on that depth and breadth of experience. He's got great analytical abilities and he's an outstanding communicator. There's nobody better suited for the job."

In his new post, Phillips' responsibilities will include the administration of bank branches in all regions, providing oversight, guidance and direction on matters ranging from individual branch performance to staffing decisions. He'll work directly with branch managers to ensure that projections, expectations and customer needs are being met through engagement of the bank’s consultative model.

Since signing on with Bank of Idaho in July 1999 as a customer service clerk and loan processor, Phillips has occupied positions as a sales manager, commercial loan officer, branch manager, marketing director, and most recently as senior branch banking officer.