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UT’s study of nuclear engineering and scintillation materials got a significant boost with a research group being named a major player in a $30 million consortium sponsored by the US Department of Energy.

Backed by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Nuclear Science and Engineering Nonproliferation Research Consortium is aiming to create a pipeline of new talent and generate new concepts and technologies in basic and applied nuclear science that can be transferred to the national laboratories.

“This is a tremendous honor as well as responsibility that has been given to our college,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the College of Engineering. “It speaks volumes for the type of research we conduct, both in nuclear engineering and materials science, and serves as an endorsement of our role as a nationally recognized leader in those areas.”

UT’s funding as part of the consortium will come to $4.25 million over five years.

Those funds will be used in areas where UT is well positioned as a national leader, including nuclear instrumentation, radiation detection materials, radiochemistry, and forensics.

UCOR Fellow and Associate Professor Jason Hayward, Governor’s Chair for Global Nuclear Security Howard Hall, and Assistant Professor Eric Lukosi—all of the Department of Nuclear Engineering—as well as Research Professor and Director of the Scintillation Materials Research Center Chuck Melcher and Assistant Professor Mariya Zhuravleva of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering make up the main UT team.

Hayward will serve as a deputy executive director for the overall consortium, to be headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley.

“This work will fund many doctoral students working out of the Scintillation Materials Research Center, the Department of Nuclear Engineering’s nuclear instrumentation laboratories, and the Institute for Nuclear Security,” said Hayward, who will serve as lead principal investigator for UT while Melcher, Zhuravleva, Hall, and Lukosi will all serve as co-PIs.

Hayward said that the research will help build upon already-strong collaborations with Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia National Laboratories.

The team at UC Berkeley also will focus on other research areas including nuclear engineering and nuclear and particle physics. Their particle physics work includes UT Associate Professor of Physics Kate Jones.

Other university partners in the new consortium include George Washington University, Michigan State University, Texas A&M University, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

It’s the latest in a string of successes for the Department of Nuclear Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Earlier this year the Department of Nuclear Engineering was named number 5 in the country by U.S. News and World Report, while at the same time gaining two more Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) Academic Research Initiative awards, giving the two UT departments 10 percent of the total awards since 2008.

“It is an honor to be seen as a key player in nuclear research, not only by peers but by the Department of Energy as well,” said Wes Hines, head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering. “While the recognition is nice, we take our role very seriously and will certainly strive to meet these critical areas where we’ve been tasked.”

Currently, Tennessee has five ongoing DNDO programs, tied with California and Texas for the most in the country.



David Goddard (865-974-0683,