Fall semester message from the department head...
The fall semester is very different this year. NC State University started classes on August 10 following a hybrid model - some classes face to face and others online. Then, by the end of week 3, we switched to all online classes due to on and off campus COVID-19 clusters. The semester continues remotely as students, faculty and staff adjust to the new situation. There will be no fall break and classes & exams will be complete by Thanksgiving. Zoom has become our friend, our way of connecting. Graduate students who do experimental work are in the labs following a customized social distancing protocol. We are committed, and the Wolfpack is determined to remain strong.

Stay safe and keep up to date on NC State's response to COVID19 through updates available here.


We are about to kick off NC State's Day of Giving on Wednesday. Your gift to the Nuclear Engineering Enhancement Fund will give the department the flexibility to respond quickly to urgent needs the College and its students are facing. That means we can fund critical research, provide financial aid for a student who can no longer afford college, support international students, make our labs safer in response to COVID-19, and/or invest in new programs for the department. 

This newsletter issue brings you happenings since we last connected in June. Our alumni, students, faculty and staff continue to make NC State Nuclear shine so please enjoy.
Trivedi awarded 2020 NC State College of Engineering Doctoral Scholar of the Year
Congratulations to Ishita Trivedi, the 2020 NC State University College of Engineering Doctoral Scholar of the Year. This award recognizes a student’s overall achievements in research, teaching, outreach, citizenship, leadership, and recruiting.

Trivedi’s dissertation is entitled “Uncertainty Quantification & Propagation Methods for Safety Analysis of Lead-Cooled Fast Reactors”. Her dissertation committee chair is Dr. Jason Hou –

“It has been a pleasure to know and supervise a brilliant and dedicated student like Ishita. This is a well-deserved award which reflects Ishita’s accomplishments. I have the highest confidence that she will represent NC State and the Nuclear Engineering Department with distinction in her future career”.

Further details here.
NC State PhD Candidate among 2020 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award Winners
Congratulations to Nina Colby Fleming, PhD Candidate at NC State University Department of Nuclear Engineering. Colby completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering in the department. Her graduate faculty adviser, Dr. Ayman Hawari, is a Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Nuclear Reactor Program.

Nina Colby Fleming, a Ph.D. student in Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University, has been awarded a Second Place prize in the Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Technology R&D. Fleming’s award is in the Open Competition in the category of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Her award-winning research paper, “Structure-Dependent Doppler Broadening Using a Generalized Thermal Scattering Law,” was published in the Proceedings of the 2020 Physics of Reactors (PHYSOR) Conference in March 2020.

Further details here.
Novellino on Advanced Reactors — state of the technology & an exploration into the fast spectrum molten salt reactor
Vincent Novellino is a recent graduate of NC State University with his BS in Nuclear Engineering and is continuing in the doctoral program. He has interned at Oak Ridge National Lab conducting research on modeling HALEU fuel with VERA and Polaris. The senior design project team he worked with proposed a demonstration fast spectrum molten salt reactor.

The Department of Energy (DOE) formed the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) in August 2019 to develop advanced fission reactor technology in the United States (U.S.), driven by growing U.S. interest in more energy independence and reducing carbon emissions.

Nuclear reactors in the U.S. have produced more carbon-free electricity than any other power source. Historically, domestic nuclear power reactors have been large light water reactors (LWR), with power ratings on the order of 1000s MWe, which can power approximately 700,000 homes. LWRs use uranium ceramic fuel pellets held in long metal tubes called fuel rods, packaged into fuel bundles that are loaded into the reactor core. Uranium used in the fuel is enriched to include a higher percentage of fissile Uranium-235, a specific isotope that fissions easier. There are two types of LWRs: pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs). The main difference between the two is that PWRs use steam generators to produce steam for electrical generation, while BWRs use water boiled directly in the core to produce steam for that same purpose.

Further details here.
NC State Nuclear Engineering Students win 2020-21 American Nuclear Society (ANS) scholarships

Abigail Davis, NC John R. LaMarsh Memorial Scholarship

Sarah Ebert, ANS NEED John & Muriel Landis Scholarship

Nina Fleming, ANS Nuclear Criticality Safety Pioneers Scholarship

Veronica Heyl, ANS Pittsburgh Local Section Undergraduate Scholarship

Noah Higgins, ANS Accelerator Applications Division Undergraduate Scholarship

Daniel Nevius, ANS Kent W. Hamlin Memorial Scholarship

Cope & Hart win the 2020 American Nuclear Society Mark Mills Award 

Congratulations to S. Joseph Cope (l) and Nathan Hart (r), they have been selected as the 2020 American Nuclear Society (ANS) Mark Mills awardees. Joseph for his paper entitled, “Incremental Gains in Transuranic Activity Analysis in Air Samples for Radiological Emergency Response”. Nathan for his paper entitled "High Order Implicit Residual-Based Spatial Discretization Error Estimation for SN Neutron Transport".

Dr. S. Joseph Cope obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering (2016) and Master of Nuclear Engineering (2017) from NC State University. Then in 2018 Joseph completed NC State's Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Policy. He was a recipient of a Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities (CNEC) Fellowship. And his dissertation was entitled “Graded Approach Methodology for Rapid Transuranic Activity Estimation in Radiological Emergency Response Air Sampling”, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear Engineering was conferred December 2020. His graduate faculty adviser and committee chair was Dr. Robert Hayes, Associate Professor & ORNL Joint Faculty.

Joseph is now senior scientist at the Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) at Joint Base Andrews. RSL is part of the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and is operated by Mission Support and Test Services, LLC (MSTS) for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

Dr. Nathan Hart obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering (2015) from the University of New Mexico. Continuing in at NC State Nuclear Engineering to obtain his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy (2020). He was a recipient of the US Department of Energy Integrated University Program Fellowship. And his dissertation was entitled "A Residual-Based A Posteriori Spatial Error Estimator for the SN Neutron Transport Equation". His graduate faculty adviser and committee chair was Dr. Yousry Azmy, Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering, CNEC Director & INL Joint Faculty.

Nathan is now a postdoctoral research associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He works in the CCS-2: Computational Physics and Methods Division on the neutron transport code PARTISN.

The Mark Mills Award is conferred by the Education, Training and Workforce Division of the ANS and recognizes the important contributions of the late Mark Mills to nuclear science and engineering. It is presented every year to the graduate student author(s) who submit(s) the best original technical paper contributing to the advancement of science and engineering related to the atomic nucleus. The official presentation of the award will be made during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting.
Alumnus Elijah Martin wins US Department of Energy Early Career Research Award

Congratulations to Dr. Elijah Martin, associate staff scientist, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Fusion Energy Division. He was selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fusion Energy Sciences Program for his proposal, “Investigation of Helicon and Lower Hybrid Wave Coupling with the Edge Plasma for Current Drive Optimization in the Tokamak Using Laser Spectroscopy”.

Magnetic confinement fusion would provide an abundant source of clean energy and help reduce the threats of climate change. The limiting factors to deploying fusion energy are continuous, reliable power production and the high costs associated with building and operating reactors. To address these issues, the Helicon, and High-Field Side Lower Hybrid (HFS-LH) programs were established at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. These programs are investigating innovative and efficient methods to generate plasma current using radio frequency (RF) waves, which is critical because tokamak fusion reactors require a constant plasma current for continuous power production. This research will combine novel laser-based spectroscopy and advanced quantum mechanical modeling to experimentally measure the RF wave’s electric field vector. Leveraging world-leading exascale high-performance computing capabilities, these measurements will be compared to 3D full-wave simulations to understand the RF waves interaction with the edge plasma. The work will provide groundbreaking insight to accelerate progress in generating efficient plasma current using RF waves.

Further details here.
Kaoumi wins National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Award

Congratulations to co-principal investigator Djamel Kaoumi, associate professor in nuclear engineering, at NC State University. They received a $1.29 million award for a “MRI: Acquisition of Plasma Multi-ion-source Focused Ion Beam Microscope” project.

Other team researchers include Drs. Elizabeth Dickey, principal investigator from Materials Science & Engineering, Ola Harrysson, co-PI from Industrial Science & Engineering, Jacob Jones co-PI from Material Science & Engineering, and Hsiao-Ying Shadow Huang, co-PI from Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Materials Research (DMR) will support the acquisition of a state-of-the-art focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope outfitted with advanced detectors and automation tools.

“The instrument enables and supports a diverse range of research projects and programs, within academia and industry, that involve three-dimensional, multi-modal characterization and patterning of microstructures. Such three-dimensional analysis is particularly important for developing materials processing strategies for additive manufacturing and for understanding mechanisms leading to material degradation and failure. In addition, the nanopatterning capabilities of the instrument provide precision engineering of novel nanometer-scale optical and mechanical devices.

Further details here.
CASL wraps up 10 years of solving nuclear problems — and hands toolbox to industry
The profound work of the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) will have a lasting impact on the nuclear community. Funded by the US Department of Energy, CASL was a broad consortium of national laboratories, leading universities, nuclear vendors, and utilities.

The NC State University Department of Nuclear Engineering was a founding partner and Nuclear Engineering Professor Dr. Paul Turinsky served as its first Chief Scientist for six years. Dr. David Kropaczek was the second Chief Scientist, and is currently the CASL Director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Scott Palmtag is the CASL Chief Technologist and Dr. J. Michael Doster is the Educational Director. Other faculty contributors from the Nuclear Engineering Department have included Drs. Maria Arvamova, Dmitriy Anistratov, Igor Bolotnov, Nam Dinh, and John Gilligan. Other NC State contributors include Drs. Ralph Smith and Tim Kelley from the Department of Mathematics, Dr. Mohammed Zikry from the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Dr. Don Brenner from the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and Frank Mueller from the Department of Computer Science.

Further details here.
Shannon named NC State Nuclear Engineering Director of Graduate Program

Dr. Steven Shannon, professor of nuclear engineering, has been named Director of Graduate Program (DGP). The DGP plays a critical role in overseeing graduate education at the department level in a variety of areas – oversight, advising, financial support, program development and evaluation.

Shannon takes over from Dr. Korukonda Murty, Progress Energy Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering, who has served for over twelve years diligently in this position.

Both scholars continue their roles as professors and researchers – Murty in nuclear materials and Shannon in industrial applications of plasma discharges.
Diaconeasa appointed to ASME Executive Committee of the Safety Engineering & Risk Analysis Division

Congratulations to Dr. Mihai Diaconeasa, assistant professor of nuclear engineering, at NC State University. He has been appointed to the 4th Vice Chair-Secretary position of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Safety Engineering and Risk Analysis Division (SERAD).

This position is for one year with the commitment for 5 years. After each year, Dr. Diaconeasa will be promoted to 3rd Vice Chair, 2nd Vice Chair, 1st Vice Chair then finally Chair.

The function of SERAD is to stimulate interest in and disseminate risk analysis and safety information as applied to the process of mechanical engineering. And member activity has expanded to include product liability, loss prevention and occupational health. Also important areas include ergonomics, consumer product safety, liability prevention, improvements to manufacturing processes for safety, and safety in transportation systems.
Hayes appointed to the ANS Professional Engineering Examination Committee

Congratulations to Dr. Robert Hayes, associate professor of nuclear engineering, at NC State University. He has been appointed for a two-year term (2020-2022) to the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Engineering Examination Committee (PEEC).

PEEC develops materials and conducts workshops to prepare individuals for the nuclear professional engineering exam that is developed, administered, and scored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. ANS materials to help prepare for the PE Nuclear Exam –

Buster wins NC State’s College of Engineering Award for Excellence

Congratulations to Stefani Buster, Assistant Director for the Consortium of Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities (CNEC). Stefani was selected as one of two 2020 College of Engineering Award for Excellence recipients in the non-faculty professional staff category (EHRA).

The NC State University College of Engineering Award for Excellence recognizes the meritorious accomplishments and contributions of individual employees. It is the most prestigious honor bestowed upon non-faculty employees.
Marshall appointed vice-chair of the ANS External Affairs Committee

Lisa Marshall now sits on the ANS External Affairs Committee and helps fulfill ANS's mission to enable effective communications between members, the public, and policymakers. Committee members support public discussions on significant domestic and international development and the communication of the Society’s views and policies. The Committee supports ANS leadership effort to engage and influence policymakers and opinion leaders In addition, the Committee supports the mobilizing members and the broader nuclear community in advocating for specific initiatives and to support crisis response.
Nuclear Engineering Virtual Summer Series
COVID-19 changed our format for our summer outreach program. Instead of a three-week on-campus program, the Young Investigators' Summer Program in Nuclear Engineering went online.

Highlights included a welcome from Drs. Ivanov & Bourham and a current students' panel. We had a virtual PULSTAR reactor tour, a doctoral student presentation on advanced reactors, faculty research spotlights, a plasma lab tour and a domestic radiation survey project.

Details of all sessions are available here.

A special thanks to alumni who finished up the week with a "what do you do with a nuclear engineering degree" discussion. This panel included,

  • Harsh Desai, Senior Manager, Policy & Strategy Development, Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)
  • Ciara Rice, Shift Test Engineer Candidate at Newport News Shipbuilding
  • Amber Tuck, Shift Test Supervisor, NAVSEA-NNSY
  • S. Joseph Cope, Senior Scientist, Remote Sensing Laboratory – Joint Base Andrews
  • Dami Fasina, MS in Medical Physics @ Duke University
  • Jonathan Coburn, Monaco Postdoctoral Fellow Science Division, ITER Organization


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Thanks to all students, alumni, staff & faculty for contributing!

Stay safe! Lisa

Director of Nuclear Outreach, Retention & Engagement | Lecturer | Adviser
CNEC Educational Outreach Director


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