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UT nuclear engineering professor Brian Wirth is considered one of the leading authorities in nuclear materials and modeling how those materials behave in extreme environments.

Brian Wirth
Brian Wirth

The latest acknowledgement of his expertise came from the University of Michigan, whose Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department invited him to be its keynote speaker for the fifth annual Richard K. Osborn Lecture in Ann Arbor on Friday.

“Being selected to present the Osborn Lecture to the nuclear engineering students and faculty at Michigan is a wonderful recognition, both personally and also for the research activities being performed in our group,” said Wirth, the joint UT­–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering.

“The Governor’s Chair position is one of the best jobs a researcher can have because it provides a platform to develop large multi-institution collaboration, and I think being selected to speak at Michigan is a reflection of those collaborations.”

Michigan, whose nuclear department was recently named number one overall among both public and private universities, began the lecture series as a way to honor Osborn, who was a professor there from 1957 to 1986.

In a neat twist, Osborn began his career at UT as a lecturer in 1952 before working at the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology and then taking the job at Michigan.

During his career, Osborn devoted his time to a wide variety of research thrusts, including nuclear physics, neutron transport, and plasma.

He was a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Nuclear Society, and was the 1965 winner of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Western Electric Fund Award.

“These annual lectures are a tribute to Professor Osborn’s unwavering dedication to education of students in fundamental science,” said Ron Gilgenbach, chair of Michigan’s nuclear engineering department.

“It is the goal of these lectures to inspire future generations of students in nuclear theory, simulation, and experiments.”

Wirth has focused his research on helping improve the longevity of reactor components with a goal of developing better, safer materials for future nuclear energy production.

Those efforts led the US Department of Energy to name him its 2015 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award winner for his commitment to making nuclear energy safer and more secure.

“Nuclear energy has an important role to play in meeting the clean energy needs of both our country and the world,” said Wirth. “It’s up to us to build on the legacy of the nuclear educators like Richard Osborn who came before us and ensure that we provide our students the ability to combine nuclear theory, simulation, and experiments at the cutting edge of technology to continually improve the safety and sustainability of nuclear power.”



David Goddard (865-974-0683,