Welcome to the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Program
The Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Program (NRE) is seeking qualified graduate students for MS and PhD degrees. The NRE program is particularly interested in applicants with a strong background in mechanical or chemical engineering, physics, chemistry or applied math. This is a small, dynamic graduate program within the Department of Mechanical Engineering with strengths in nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear forensics, nuclear non-proliferation, applications of robotic handling of special nuclear materials and neutron beam port technology.
- Educate the next generation of leaders in nuclear science and engineering.
- Conduct leading research at the forefront of the national and international nuclear community.
- Apply nuclear technology for solving multidisciplinary problems.
- Provide service to the citizens of Texas, the United States and the international community.
Congratulations to new MS graduate student Adam Drescher for receiving the prestigious Cockrell School of Engineering $9K fellowship per year for four years. This fellowship, above the monthly stipend, is offered to high achieving undergraduate students to attract the best graduate students to the various engineering departments.
Adam, is completing his BS degree from the Department of Physics at the University of Texas where he took the Radiation Physics Option - a series of six courses in nuclear and radiation engineering given in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He begins in spring 2016 and will continue his work in the characterization of lanthanum bromide detectors for gamma-gamma coincidence measurements.
Congratulations to recently graduated Dr. Kenny Dayman who has accpeted a Postdoctoral Research Associate position in the Nuclear Forensics Research in the Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Kenny’s dissertation Determination of Independent and Cumulative Fission Product Yields with Gamma Spectrometry was performed under Dr. Biegalski. Kenny follows in the footsteps of Dr. Roger Kapsimalis (2013) who has a staff position at ONRL also in nuclear forensics investigations.
Dr. Mitch Pryor, Research Scientist was invited to be part of the Workshop on Robotic Handling of High-Consequence Materials. Hosted by the United States Department of Energy and the United States National Science Foundation, the Purdue Robotics Accelerator, in conjunction with the NSF Center for Robots and Sensors for the Human Well-Being, is conducting a National Robotics Initiative workshop and technology road mapping effort to study robotic handling of nuclear waste and the re-processing of military and civilian nuclear byproducts. In addition, the National Science Foundation is interested in expanding this effort to include general principles on the "science of safety" that may emerge from similar studies with the handling of biological pathogens and extra-planetary sample-return missions - other such "high-consequence materials". The workshop shop takes place in early December in Washington DC. Dr. Pryor is the Director of the Nuclear and Applied Robotics Laboratory and a staff member of the Nuclear and Engineering Teaching Lab.
Richard Lara, a senior in the Radiation Physics Option in the Physics Department and an undergraduate employee at the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab, won second place for the poster competition at the MAES (Mexican American Engineers and Scientists) symposium held in Las Vegas October 14-17. MAES is the foremost Latino organization for the development of STEM leaders in the academic, executive, and technical communities bringing together hundreds of students and professionals seeking employment and advancement opportunities. Richard’s poster was on “Using Non-Destructive Neutron Activation Analysis to Effectively Determine 235,238U, 40K and 232Th in Various Matrices with Sub-Gram Quantities of Material.”
Dr. Landsberger receives a gift for recognition for presenting five lectures at the International Atomic Energy Agency Interregional Workshop on Good Practices on Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) Residues and Waste held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 19-23, 2015. Dr. Landsberger was one of three international experts making presentations to participants from Malaysia and 26 other countries. He presented five lectures on the safe handling and characterization of radioactive waste from the oil and gas exploration sector. His lectures included NORM in Oil and Gas Exploration; Radiological, Monitoring and Analytical Aspects of NORM; Decontamination of Equipment; Occupational Protection; and Assessing Radiation Dose from NORM through Modelling.
Rachel Morneau (left), Birdy Phathanapirom (center) and Maggie Byers (right) attended Global 2015: 21st International Conference and Exhibition: "Nuclear Fuel Cycle for a Low-Carbon Future held in Paris, France in September. Rachel gave a presentation on "Potential Benefits of Energy Storage Using Texas as Case Study", Birdy gave presentation on "A Method for Hedging Against Uncertainties in Nuclear Futures", while Maggie spoke on "Sensitivity of Seawater Uranium Cost to System and Design Parameters". This major international conference was organized by the Société Francaise d’Energie Nucléaire and sponsored by the American Nuclear Society (ANS), Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ) and Korean Nuclear Society (KNS) and in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS), Chinese Nuclear Society (CNS) and European Nuclear Society (ENS).
Venkata Sugunaram Kancharla, a third year student studying the Radiation Physics technical option in the Physics Department did an summer internship in the summer of 2015 in the field of instrumentation and health physics at the prestigious Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai, India. The Radiation Physics technical option is in the Physics Department with students taking six nuclear and radiation engineering courses in the Mechanical Engineering Department.
In April Sheldon Landsberger received the Visiting Scientist Copernicus award from the University of Ferrera, Italy for his work in low radioactivity counting in environmental sampling (http://iuss.unife.it/scuole-
Undergraduate Electrical and Computer Engineering students (from left to right) Cynthia Lu, Selma Wanna and David Park joined high school student Niklas Borcanski and new graduate student Meredith Pitsch in Mitch Pryor’s Nuclear and Applied Robotics laboratory to design a system to perform routine inventory and radiation inspection of hazardous material in storage facilities. The system is able to validate the presence of material using bar codes, radiation sensors, object recognition, and pose estimation.
Congratulations to Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student James Walker who interned at South Texas Project Nuclear Generation Station (www.stpegs.com) in the Testing/Programs Engineering Department. He worked in the Flow-Accelerated Corrosion Program and was involved to model the feedwater piping in the plant using Solidworks. These are very competitive internships to obtain. James is in the ME Career Gateway technical elective in the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering program.
Kenny Dayman (center), receives a travel grant from the Isotopes and Radiation Division of the American Nuclear Society to attend the 10th Methods and Applications of Radioanalytical Chemistry (MARC) conference held in Kona, Hawaii, April 12-17. Kenny presented his PhD research work on the “Evaluation of Independent and Cumulative Fission Product Yields With Gamma Spectrometry”.
WoMEn on the Move
This past year has seen a significant number of women who had an impact in the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering program at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Franziska Klingberg who received her PhD (Dr. Steven Biegalski, supervisor) in May 2015 has already received a staff position as a Radionuclide Analyst at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna, Austria (www.ctbto.org). The Treaty has a unique and comprehensive verification regime to make sure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected. The four technical areas include seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide.
PhD candidate Bonnie Canion received an all expense trip to MIT as part of the Women Rising Stars in Nuclear Science and Engineering Symposium held in April. Bonnie presented her current PhD work being done at Oak Ridge National Lab. Her research involves Incorporation of Photon Analysis into an Active Interrogation System for HEU Assembly Characterization. The overarching motivation for this research comes from the need to enhance detection and characterization capabilities for shielded highly enriched uranium (HEU) assemblies. Bonnie also received the prestigious National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP). She will be working in Washington DC at the NNSA headquarters while completing her PhD. Bonnie completed her MS with Dr. Sheldon Landsberger and he is co-advising her with at ORNL staff member for her PhD dissertation work.
Urairisa (Birdy) Phathanapirom received 1st place in the Open Competition in the Energy Policy subject area, for which there's a cash prize of $3000. Her submitted paper was "Hedging Against Uncertainty in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle," which was accepted and presented at the International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management conference in Charleston, SC. Part of the award is presenting follow-on work at the upcoming American Nuclear Society Winter conference in Washington DC in a special session, with travel funded through the same program. Birdy has completed he MS with Dr. Erich Schneider and is continuing with her PhD.
Maggie Flicker-Byers was the Student Program Co-Chair" for the annual American Nuclear Society conference held in June in San Antonio, Texas. Maggie also participated in the Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation. It was a great opportunity for nuclear engineering students from different schools all across the nation to advocate on Capitol Hill for nuclear energy and education. As a delegation she met with many government entities and officials ranging from the Office of Management and Budget to two NRC commissioners. Individually she met with representatives from our surrounding congressional districts. Accompanied by two Texas A&M students she met Rep. Bill Flores and Rep. Roger Williams. As Maggie stated “It was a really amazing experience that is open to both grads and under grads so I think in future years students in our program should be heavily encouraged to apply!” Maggie just completed her MS with Dr. Erich Schneider and is staying on for her PhD.
Christine Johnson, PhD student for Dr. Steven Biegalski, is spending summer of 2015 at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a graduate research assistant at the NSIP (National Security Internship Program) working with the Radiation Detection Systems & Analysis Group and preparing for her PhD proposal defense. Within the past year, she has made presentations at the 8th International Conference on Isotopes (8-ICI), the 10th Methods and Applications of Radioanalytical Chemistry (MARC) Conference, and the 5th Workshop on Signatures of Medical and Industrial Isotope Production (WOSMIP). Her Ph.D. research has already had international impact in that she has been the first to experimentally verify the process of atmospheric imprinting of radioactive gas plumes into local geologies.
Rachel Mourneau, PhD student for Dr. Erich Schneider, is spending the summer of 2015 at Los Alamos National Lab as a graduate research assistant preparing for her PhD proposal. Rachel will also spend the spring and summer of 2016 at LANL. Her PhD research focuses on design modifications to nuclear reactors which increase their proliferation resistance by making their used fuel harder to use in a nuclear weapon."
Both Hana Choice (left) and Celeste Bergeron -Radiation Physics (right) received funding to attend the Women in Nuclear (WIN) Conference held in Austin in July. Physics students in the Radiation Physics option take five courses in the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering program in the ME Department. The WIN conference (www.winus.org) is a four-day event that allows women in various nuclear engineering programs to connect with other men and women in the field. Women in Nuclear is the premier network of over 7,300 women and men who work in nuclear and radiation related fields around the country. WIN members participate in networking, professional development and outreach activities through local chapters, regional organizations and national organization. This summer Celeste is working with Dr. Sheldon Landsberger and Dr. Steven Biegalski, and Dr. Trevor Watt at MER on the determination of hydrogen embrittlement in underwater oil exploration equipment using nuclear and non-nuclear technologies. Research work is funded by One Subsea.
Meredith Pitsch, first year MS student in the Nuclear Robotics Program received a nine-month Cockrell School of Engineering fellowship as well as the $9K/year fellowship for 4 years. Meredith jump-started her research by beginning this summer with Dr. Mitch Pryor.
Undergraduate students Mallory Sico (left) and Emily Crowell-Stevens (right) attended the Maymester study abroad program at the Technical Institute of Delft, Netherlands. The Concepts in Nuclear and Radiation Engineering course taught for nineteen Cockrell School of Engineering and Department of Physics undergraduates was given by Dr. Sheldon Landsberger for the 4th year, Besides lectures and laboratories held at the Delft research reactor there was a visit to the Belgium Research Center (SCK-CEN Academy) in Mol.. The field trip also included a visit to an experimental underground radioactive waste facility some 200 meters below the earth’s surface.
Many congratulations to Anthony Scopatz and Joseph Graham in accepting academic positions as Assistant Professors. Anthony Scopatz (left) who received his PhD in 2011 has accepted a position in the Nuclear Engineering Program in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Anthony expertise is in computational nuclear fuel cycle and reactor analysis. Joseph Graham (right) who received his PhD in 2013 has accepted a position in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Missouri University of Science, Rolla. Joseph’s expertise is in radiation damage of materials in both the experimental and computational areas.
Clinton Peterson (left) received his MS in the Nuclear and Applied Robotics program in Spring 2015 and has a staff position at Los Alamos in the Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Division. His MS thesis was entitled “Industrial Automation and Control in Hazardous Nuclear Environments”. Edwin Paredes (right) BSME 2015 who was in the Bridges to the Future Certificate Program in the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Program has a post-Baccalaureate positon also in the Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Division at Los Alamos National Lab. These one-years positions are set up at the BS and MS levels for recently graduated students who are entertaining to seek full time employment at LANL.
Congratulations to Adam Allevato (left) and Matthew Horn (right) both MS students in the Nuclear and Applied Robotics program (http://robotics.me.utexas.
Sheldon Landsberger gave a presentation to the IAEA Coordinated Research Project on automation in Neutron Activation Analysis from June 22-26 in Vienna Austria. He also delivered a series of lectures on Compton suppression neutron activation analysis for the IAEA on expert mission to the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Nucleares (ININ) outside Mexico City from July 13-17.
Erich Schneider presented on energy storage and hybrid energy technologies for nuclear reactors at the US-Japan Joint Study on the Future of Nuclear Energy 1st Workshop, "Compatibility of Nuclear and Renewables with Grid Stability, Economics and Deregulation" at MIT on June 18-19. He is currently on the IAEA Coordinated Research Project "Options and Technologies for Managing the Back End of the Research Reactor Fuel Cycle" which took place in June 15-19 in Vienna, Austria. Erich also ran an expert elicitation study of correlations between reactor capital costs at the 4th Annual EPRI Nuclear Fuel Cycle Assessment Workshop at Vanderbilt University on July 21-22.
Undergraduate interns as part of the Office of Naval Research STEM program for underrepresented students participated at the University of Texas in summer 2015. At the bottom left from the University of Texas Michel Robles a junior in Medical Laboratory Science worked with Health Physicist Tracy Tipping ( top 3rd from the left) in managing the laboratories at the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab. Patrice Burrows, (bottom right) from Florida Memorial University Department of Health and Natural Sciences workedwith Dr. Ofodike Ezekoye ( top right) from the UT Mechanical Engineering Department in gas chromatography for fire chemistry and investigating the movement of fire tornadoes. Ckeurcheley Leblanc ( top 2nd from the left) also from Florida Memorial University has been working with FMU Professor Dr. Dimitri Tamalis ( bottom 2nd from the right) and Dr. Sheldon Landsberger on the investigation of lanthanum bromide detectors for spent nuclear fuel and radioactivity in oil exploration field. Brady Emokpae, (top row fourth from the left) from the Electrical and Computing Engineering Department at the University of Texas at San Antonio worked with Martin Barlett this summer on an experimental infrasound project at the Applied Research Lab. Finally, Jose Sanchez, (top row 3rd from the right) an undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering has been working with Sheldon Landsberger on an ONR funded project to determine the neutron attenuation properties of special materials.
Undergraduate student Richard Lara in the Radiation Physics option has spent his second summer as an intern at Argonne National Lab. His work has included creating an adapter to connect a computer to a phase lock synthesizer (PLS) for the chirped pulse millimeter wave project used mainly in it in general gas spectroscopy. Richard was also running simulations using Vic-3D eddy current simulation program to determine what kind of non-destructive evaluation is ideal for an issue with a sodium fast reactor project. There is sodium oxide depositing on piping walls, and there is a need to be able to determine to determine the place and amount of the deposits.
Other Research Opportunities
The Materials Science and Engineering , MSE is a major technical area within the Mechanical Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin and there are close research collaborations in various research projects using the facilities at the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab. Visit Materials Engineering
Operations Research/Industrial Engineering
The Operations Research Group/Industrial Engineering (ORI), is a major technical area within the Mechanical Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin and there are close research collaborations in optimal decision making and the modeling of deterministic and probabilistic systems.
Visit Operations Research/Industrial Engineering