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NSE Spotlight Archives :: NSE students

Sean Lowder

Sean Lowder: A path to naval Nuclear Engineering

NSE senior Sean Lowder is taking his nuclear engineering expertise to Washington, DC ... more

Monica Pham

Monica Pham: Advancing nuclear power and empowering girls

NSE sophomore Monica Pham researches fusion energy and promotes STEM opportunities for young women. ... more

Sara Hauptman

Sara Hauptman: Learning on the job

Before sophomore Sara Hauptman set foot in a nuclear science and engineering (NSE) class, she was learning to operate MIT’s nuclear reactor. ... more

Brandon Sorbom

Brandon Sorbom: Designing a fusion future

NSE graduate student, Brandon Sorbom, now in his sixth year at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), is researching how much radiation magnetic materials in fusion tokamaks can endure before they are compromised. He is specifically interested in high-temperature superconductors (HTS), a recently commercialized class of superconductor that could reduce the size and expense of future fusion projects. ... more

Rasheed Auguste

Rasheed Auguste: Advocating for change on campus and Capitol Hill

NSE senior Rasheed Auguste is fueled by passions for science, policy, and creating a more inclusive MIT. ... more

Caroline Colbert

Caroline Colbert: Paving a Path to Medicine

NSE senior Caroline Colbert had expected to pursue a career in nuclear power. But after working in a medical environment, she changed her plans. ... more

Silvia Espinosa

Silvia Espinosa: On the edge of discovery

A fourth-year nuclear science and engineering graduate student at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), Espinosa is seeking to understand phenomena observed in plasmas that fuel magnetic fusion devices like the Center’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak. ... more

Jayson Vavrek

Jayson Vavrek: Turning particle detectors into weapons detectors

Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) graduate student Jayson Vavrek got his start in high-energy particle physics, looking for the smallest forms of matter in the universe. Now at MIT, he uses the same tools and principles to verify nuclear weapons. ... more

Cody Dennett

Cody Dennett: Scrutinizing radiation’s impact

Nuclear Science and Engineering doctoral student Cody Dennett cannot measure firsthand the powerful pummeling taken by structural parts in the heart of working nuclear reactors. Instead, he has developed novel experimental methods to reveal in real-time, high resolution detail the destructive impact of radiation on reactor components. ... more

Carolyn Coyle

Carolyn Coyle: Engineering CRUD for better reactors

Nuclear Science and Engineering doctoral student Carolyn Coyle ’13 SM ’16 specializes in the corrosive particle build-up found on primary components of nuclear reactors, known by its apt acronym, CRUD (for Chalk River Unidentified Deposits). The substance is a common byproduct of reactor operation, yet its impacts on reactor function have not yet been carefully elucidated. Coyle’s research, part of a larger effort to improve reactor safety and efficiency, aims to bring CRUD out of the shadows. ... more

Amelia Trainer

Amelia Trainer: Structuring improved simulations for reactor physics

Trainer, a sophomore majoring in physics and nuclear science and engineering, calls “Scaffolding” “probably the most true and meaningful love poem I’ve read.” But its metaphorical take on a relationship might also resonate for Trainer around her work with the Computational Reactor Physics Group (CRPG), where Trainer is deeply committed to learning about strengthening structures in a nuclear realm. ... more

Carolena Ruprecht

Carolena Ruprecht: On board with nuclear engineering for the Navy

Few undergraduates have pinned down their post-graduation plans as precisely as Carolena Ruprecht. Just after commencement on June 3, 2016, Ruprecht will attend a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) commissioning ceremony, and then be whisked off to her commission as a surface warfare officer, destined to serve on an aircraft carrier. ... more

Aditi Verma

Aditi Verma: A multidisciplinary take on nuclear policy

A doctoral student in nuclear science and engineering, Verma has spent her academic career acquiring the expertise in science, engineering and the social sciences required to make sense of complex policy questions that arise around nuclear energy. ... more

Ruaridh Macdonald

Ruaridh Macdonald: Engineering nuclear security

NSE graduate student Ruaridh Macdonald is involved in a project called Zero Knowledge Warhead Verification, developing a tool to identify nuclear weapons without divulging too much. ... more

Alex Creely, Adam Kuang

Kuang, Creely already contributing to fusion’s advancement

This summer, nuclear fusion researchers at MIT and Germany’s Max Planck Institute will learn more about what’s going on inside their reactors, thanks in part to the accomplishments of two first-year Nuclear Science and Engineering doctoral students. ... more

Benjamin Lawrence Magolan

Coding for cooling: Benjamin Magolan helps model improved coolant flow

After tinkering for months with thousands of lines of computer code, Benjamin L. Magolan believes he is finally getting somewhere: “I’ve had a breakthrough with my implementation and now everything is coming together,” he says. “I’m capturing the appropriate turbulence trends in my model.” ... more

Sterling Harper

NSE senior Sterling Harper tackles nuclear energy risk with virtual simulation tools

Several years ago, as an incoming freshman, current MIT senior Sterling Harper had no inkling that he’d find his passion in writing nuclear engineering software. But after signing up on a whim for a pre-orientation program with the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE), Harper was hooked, and is now set to graduate from a five-year program with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field next year. ... more

Lulu Li

Lulu Li: Modeling the maelstrom inside a reactor

The frenetic dance of neutrons inside a nuclear reactor generates heat and produces electricity. Reactor physicist Lulu Li wants to make sense of this kinetic choreography, with the ultimate goal, she says, of “making nuclear reactors safer, more reliable and economical to operate.” A fourth year doctoral student and member of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering’s Computational Reactor Physics Group (CRPG), Li is developing precise and detailed simulations of neutron behavior that could have a major impact on current and future generations of nuclear reactors. ... more

Alexandre Cooper-Roy, Masashi Hirose, Ashok Ajoy

Doctoral students seek quantum control in Prof. Cappellaro’s Quantum Engineering Group

MIT’s Quantum Engineering Group (QEG) has a challenging but potentially world-changing mission: to harness the quantum properties of matter for use in information technology, metrology, defense, healthcare, and many other fields. ... more

Mareena Robinson

Mareena Robinson: An unexpected path to nuclear engineering

When she was accepted into the undergraduate business program at Florida A&M University (FAMU), Mareena Robinson thought she had her future all figured out: She would go to law school and become an attorney, like her father, or else a businesswoman. ... more

Yan Chen

Altering the energy landscape: Yan Chen’s work on fuel cell catalysts could help integrate new power solutions

Doctoral candidate Yan Chen wants to improve the world. She doesn’t say this directly, but her five years of research on catalytic surfaces for use in high-temperature fuel cells say it for her. Her work has the potential to create efficient new energy solutions to help curb the world’s appetite for carbon-based fuels. ... more

Pavlina Karafillis and Rasheed Auguste

Open-Ended Problems With No Answer Keys: Freshmen Karafillis and Auguste Thrive on NSE Lab Team

What do MIT freshmen Pavlina Karafillis and Rasheed Auguste like about their work in the Short Lab, NSE Assistant Professor Mike Short’s materials research group?

“There’s no answer key — you have to figure things out on your own,” says Karafillis. Adds Auguste, “it’s like one big open-ended problem; nobody tells you exactly how to attack it.” ... more

Minh Dinh

NSE undergrad Minh Dinh’s love of learning, materials, and programming leads him to research group role

Minh Dinh has always had a love of learning; it got a big boost when he was attending high school in Hue City, Viet Nam, and a university enrichment program introduced him to nuclear physics. “It made me think, wow, this stuff is so cool, I want to learn more about it — that’s when I decided to study nuclear engineering in college,” he recalls. ... more

Margo Batie

Margo Batie: A physicist, an athlete, and an engineer

Studying both physics and nuclear science and engineering at MIT is no small challenge, but it’s just one of the activities that senior Margo Batie juggles. During her time at MIT, Batie has played on the varsity basketball team, led the women’s club rugby team, conducted research at two national laboratories, and helped strengthen minority support systems and outreach programs. ...more

Gabrielle Ledoux

NSE UROPs give Ledoux a perfect intersection for materials studies

Gabrielle Ledoux came to MIT as a freshman in 2012 with a longtime interest in materials science, and a passion for research and discovery — a combination that’s finding fulfillment at MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering, where her participation in a series of investigations has led to a dual major and a Summer 2013 project that Ledoux calls “a perfect intersection of all my interests.” ... more

Rosemary Sugrue

Rosemary Sugrue: Tracking bubbles for improved nuclear safety

Whether soloing on tenor saxophone in a jazz band, souping up a racing coupe, or serving as the lone woman operator at a nuclear power plant, Rosemary Sugrue seizes opportunities to stretch herself and learn. This second-year graduate student, who says she has always “enjoyed problem-solving, critical thinking and mechanical things,” arrived at MIT as a freshman in 2007 restless to explore new domains. ... more

Zach hartwig

Zach Hartwig applies physics, teamwork to create new tools for fusion energy science

As an undergraduate engineering student, Zach Hartwig was introduced to the methods, procedures and practices that form an engineer’s toolkit. But, he recalls, his real interest was in “the principles the tools were built on, the fundamental physics that lay behind them.” So he switched majors and became a physicist, spending the next few years working in particle physics before joining the MIT NSE doctoral program. ... more

Jake Jurewicz

Jake Jurewicz: An undergraduate contributes to fusion reactor advancement

Like many in the MIT community, Jake Jurewicz has felt a lifelong attraction to engineering. “Growing up, all I ever played with were Legos and Lincoln Logs, things that involved building,” he recalls. ... more

Lindsey Anne Gilman

Lindsey Anne Gilman: Better boiling for more efficient energy production

For Lindsey Anne Gilman, SM ’12, playing with bubbles is serious work. Her PhD research project, launched this past summer, concerns ways of improving heat transfer for energy production utilizing boiling water. In nuclear reactors, the formation and movement of bubbles in boiling water turns out to be a critical issue: “If instead of nice little bubbles leaving the surface of the fuel, you get a film of vapor forming, the temperature of the fuel rods can increase,” says Gilman. “When this happens, you have reached critical heat flux. The concern is that if the temperature of the fuel rods gets high enough, the structural integrity of the rods might be compromised, and even fail.” ... more

Ekaterina Paramonova

Ekaterina Paramonova: A nuclear networker

Ekaterina (Katia) Paramonova ’13 acknowledges starting Course 22 with some distinct advantages: both her father and grandfather work in the nuclear industry, and her Russian parents insisted on fluency in the language, opening up opportunities in another country with a well-established nuclear sector. Now this 19-year-old undergraduate is intent on leveraging her assets in some surprising ways, establishing a unique career track that intriguingly combines nuclear engineering and diplomacy. ... more

Fusion at NSE

Daniel Casey: Exploring a “little star” on Earth

In 2010, after a decade of meticulous preparation, Daniel Casey and an MIT team finally ran their experiment. The world’s largest laser struck a millimeter-sized target, and in less than a second, it was all over. Casey, now a post-doctoral associate in MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, recalls, “You heard a little pop, but there was no other sight or sound in the control room.” Yet if the moment itself proved an anticlimax, the experiment has paid off in spades, yielding data that opens a window onto extreme conditions found nowhere else on Earth, and starting a new chapter in high energy density physics. ... more

Sara Ferry

Sara Ferry: A new generation works to fulfill the promise of nuclear energy

The world of nuclear technology is in a generational transition. Many nuclear engineers and scientists were trained between the 1950s and 1970s, but entry to the field slowed in subsequent decades; NSE Ph.D. student Sara Ferry is part of a new cadre of technologists who are working to fulfill the promise of nuclear energy in a world very different from that of their predecessors. ... more

Clarice Aiello

Clarice Aiello: Finding quantum gold in diamond’s defect

The kind of diamond Clarice Aiello values does not come in a dazzling pear or square cut, swaddled in black velvet on a counter at Tiffany’s. Instead, it exists as a millimeter-sized chunk on a sturdy table in a lab she built. What’s more, Aiello is not searching for perfection in her rock, but imperfection of a remarkable kind: a naturally occurring defect in the diamond’s lattice that, if manipulated properly, gives rise to quantum phenomena. ... more

Ashley Finan

Ashley Finan: Developing better policy for energy innovation

When Ashley Finan receives her Ph.D. in Nuclear Science and Engineering, it won’t be so much the culmination of an academic career as a milestone in a journey begun a decade ago. Finan credits some unique opportunities at MIT with setting her on a path toward a “place where it’s possible to make the most positive impact” on clean energy solutions and climate change. ... more

Silicone Carbide Cladding Proves its Mettle

David Carpenter: Silicon Carbide Cladding Proves its Mettle

Innovation is powerful, but in a field like nuclear engineering, new materials, designs and processes must prove their merit under all foreseeable conditions before moving into everyday use. An NSE team is using specialized facilities of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory to evaluate a new approach to protecting reactor fuel rods, with the prospect of enabling better reactor performance and safety, while also reducing waste production. more

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