Fall 2022 Welcome Social

The Fall semester is in full swing and we have much to share - 

  • Engineering North Carolina’s Future”, a state legislative initiative, will provide NC State University with $20 million over the next two years to hire additional faculty and staff and $30 million for facility upgrades, with the aim of supporting a growth of 4000 students in engineering and computer science.

  • Partnerships with GE-Hitachi, BWXT, X-Energy, and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Microreactor Applications Research Validation and Evaluation (MARVEL) are key to advanced reactor technologies and our push to clean, reliable, and affordable energy.

NC State Nuclear Engineering continues to grow, lead, and partner - we're ushering in a new and exciting tomorrow.



Kostadin Ivanov

Professor & Department Head

Four new tenure-track faculty members join the department

Four new tenure-track faculty members joined us this academic year 2022-23. With these additions and an INL joint faculty appointment, NC State Nuclear Engineering has a total of twenty-seven tenured/tenure track, one research, three teaching, and five emeritus faculty members.

Left to right: Drs. Lingfeng He, associate professor; Amanda Lietz, assistant professor; Florian Laggner, assistant professor; and, Elizabeth Kautz, assistant professor.

For details on their research areas, click here.

NRC to fund digital-twin-based automation research project

Drs. Nam Dinh (NC State Nuclear Engineering) and Son Tran (New Mexico State Computer Science), co-principal investigators (co-PIs), have been recommended for a US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Research and Development Award.

The project, entitled “Trustworthiness of Digital-Twin-based Automation Technology in Nuclear Power Plant Operation”, seeks to establish a technical basis for the development and demonstration of a trustworthiness assessment framework for automation enabled by digital twin (DT) technology for nuclear reactor operation and maintenance (O&M) procedures. DTs can be used to automate the assessment of plant state and make O&M decisions, but such automation requires that the output of DTs be trustworthy and explainable. Methods and lessons learned from this project will be instrumental for the independent trustworthiness assessment of different automation systems using DTs, the identification of top-level automation goals based on the safety and economic requirements of nuclear reactors, the identification of sub-level DTs development plan, and the effective collection of evidence for the target trustworthiness levels.

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NE Department honors retiring professor

J. Michael Doster

Colleagues, both current and former, along with alumni and members of our advisory board joined in the retirement celebration for Dr. J. Michael Doster. Stories were shared about his career and they brought lots of laughter and a few tears.

Doster’s relationship with NC State Nuclear Engineering Department began nearly 50 years ago in the fall of 1973 as an undergraduate student. His teaching career actually launched while pursuing his PhD when the department hired him as a visiting instructor for an undergraduate course. In March of 1982, he officially began as an assistant professor.

Accolades over the years include University Outstanding Teacher (twice), Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, George H. Blessis Outstanding Adviser Award, and the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Glenn Murphy Award, a national honor bestowed on a distinguished nuclear engineering educator in recognition of notable professional contributions to the teaching of undergraduate and/or graduate nuclear engineering students.

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US DOE grant awarded for advancing multi-hazard risk & safety considerations of aging nuclear facilities

The PRA group, led by Dr. Mihai Diaconeasa, was awarded a US Department of Energy Nuclear Safety Research and Development (NSR&D) Program grant for a collaborative project led by the Idaho National Laboratory on advancing multi-hazard risk and safety considerations for aging nuclear facilities.

It will provide technical support, demonstrating a multi-hazard time-dependent PRA approach for nuclear facilities considering aging-related deterioration of structures.

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SRNL, NC State appoint Dr. Hayes to joint faculty position

Dr. Robert Hayes will help develop and execute Savannah River National Laboratory's (SRNL) vision to advance nonproliferation and global security stewardship by expanding knowledge of and applications in sensing, characterizing, assessing and deterring nuclear proliferation,” said Associate Laboratory Director, Global Security, Tammy Taylor.

This work will also address key gaps identified in NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation’s Strategic Vision while developing the workforce to support future NNSA and US Government national security organization mission needs.

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Dr. Stapelmann receives Early Career Award for Plasma Medicine

Dr. Katharina Stapelmann received the Early Career Award for Plasma Medicine (ECAPM) from the International Society of Plasma Medicine. It was presented at the 9th International Conference on Plasma Medicine Conference in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Stapelmann studies the interactions of technical plasmas with biological systems on a macro-molecular level, in particular, the characterization and optimization of plasma discharges used for biomedical applications along with the understanding and improvement of plasmas used in medicine.

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Dr. Gilligan named American Nuclear Society Fellow

John Gilligan, Distinguished University Professor of Nuclear Engineering and the College of Engineering’s executive associate dean, was named one of two ANS Fellow at the annual meeting.

Gilligan, an ANS member since 1978, is also director of the US Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program Integration Office.

He was honored by ANS “in recognition of his capable leadership of the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy’s university programs, expanding their scope and size, and enhancing the engagement of the nuclear engineering academic community with national laboratories and industry for the betterment of the U.S. innovative nuclear energy posture".

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Dr. Hawari appointed to the Nuclear Data Subcommittee of the National Science Advisory Committee

Dr. Ayman Hawari, Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Director of the Nuclear Reactor Program, has been appointed to the Nuclear Data (ND) Subcommittee of the National Science Advisory Committee (NSAC).

This subcommittee is charged with providing official advice to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) on the national program for basic nuclear science research. Reliable nuclear data plays an essential role in the success of federal missions such as non-proliferation, nuclear forensics, homeland security, national defense, space exploration, clean energy generation, and scientific research.

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Energy Frontier Research Center Renewed

The US Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Science has announced the renewal of one the Energy Frontier Research Centers.

Dr. Djamel Kaoumi, associate professor of nuclear engineering at NC State, is part of the team led by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) under Dr. Blas Uberuaga’s direction.

The center works on “Fundamental Understanding of Transport Under Reactor Extremes (FUTURE)” with the goal to understand the coupling between radiation damage and corrosion and predict irradiation-assisted corrosion in passivating and non-passivating environments for materials in nuclear energy systems.

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Alumnus Dr. Kombaiah wins early career award

Dr. Boopathy Kombaiah, staff scientist, in the Characterization and Advanced Post-Irradiation Examination Group at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), is the 2022 recipient of the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Early Career Award. His research examines the “Fundamental Mechanisms of Newtonian Diffusional Creep in Structural Alloys” and is funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Kombaiah received his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 2015 under the faculty advisement of Dr. KL Murty, Progress Energy Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering.

The US DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Program selected eighty-three scientists from across the nation – twenty-seven from national laboratories and fifty-six from US universities.

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NC State alumna new dean of engineering at Maritime College

Dr. A. Leigh Winfrey was named new Dean for the School of Engineering at Maritime College.

Winfrey completed her doctoral degree at NC State University in mechanical engineering with a minor in nuclear engineering. Her dissertation was entitled “A Numerical Study of the Non-Ideal Behavior, Parameters, and Novel Applications of an Electrothermal Plasma Source.” She has built a prestigious career in academia and started this new position on August 8.

“I greatly look forward to being a leader who is bold in strategy, generous in partnership, passionate in advocacy, attentive to elevating others, and an example of the Core Values of SUNY Maritime College", said Dr. Winfrey.

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Alzahrani awarded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education, Research & Development Fellowship

Yahya Alzahrani, of the PRA Group, is one of the recipients of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education, Research and Development Fellowship (RDF). It is a unique program with the mission to discover, develop, and connect high-potential Saudi youth to become well-rooted, globally competitive, and emboldened to make a positive socioeconomic impact for the country.

Alzahrani received his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University and Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering from King Abdelaziz University. He has been doing research in the area of neutronics analysis and computational method in nuclear corrosion for advance and small modular reactor (SMR).

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Nasr, awarded an INL Graduate Fellow

Doctoral student, Fadel Nasr, was awarded an Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Graduate Fellowship award. A program designed to identify exceptional talent in research areas aligned with INL’s strategic agenda.

Nasr completed his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear and Radiation Engineering at Alexandria University (Egypt). He started his doctoral degree in fall 2021 at NC State University Department of Nuclear Engineering. His faculty mentors are Drs. Yousry Azmy (Nuclear Engineering) and Ralph Smith (Mathematics).

His INL mentor will be Dr. Mauricio Tano. They will be working on the “Convergence with Numerical Model Refinement of Uncertainty Estimates for Nonlinear Models Relevant to Advanced Nuclear Reactor Systems”.

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Kanies wins 2022 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award

Bryant Kanies, a PhD student in Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University, is a recipient of an Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award sponsored by the US Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Fuel and Supply Chain.

Bryant’s award is in the Competition for Students at Universities with Less than $600 Million in 2020 R&D Expenditures. His award-winning research paper, “Thermoluminescence and Optically Stimulated Luminescence Response of Al2O3 Coatings Deposited by Mist-Chemical Vapor Deposition", was published in Radiation Physics and Chemistry in February 2022.

His faculty adviser is Dr. Ge Yang.

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Keifer places 2nd in the 2022 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards

Timothy Keifer, recent BS in nuclear engineering graduate and 1st year doctoral student at NC State University, receives one of two 2022 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D awards - placing second.

Tim’s award was in the open competition category of Advanced Reactor Systems. His award-winning research paper, “Control Rod Modeling in Liquid Metal-Cooled Fast Reactors", was presented at the 2022 International Conference on Physics of Reactors (PHYSOR).

Tim is also a recipient of the Rickover Fellowship Program and has joined the advanced nuclear reactor designs research group of

Dr. Scott Palmtag. 

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Doctoral candidate, Owen Webster, 2022 Nuclear Nonproliferation International Safeguards Graduate Fellow, 2022 NEREC Summer Fellow

S. Owen Webster is a 2022 Nuclear Nonproliferation International Safeguards Graduate Fellow (NNIS). This fellowship is administered by the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Office of International Nuclear Safeguards (OINS).

Their comprehensive, multi-million-dollar program is dedicated to developing policies, concepts, technologies, expertise, infrastructure, and the human capital necessary to sustain and enhance international nuclear safeguards.

Owen was also selected as one of the 2022 Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center (NEREC) Summer Fellows and spent five weeks at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea. The Center’s goal is to foster global initiatives towards the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

His faculty adviser is Dr. Ge Yang.

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Davis & Higgins win US Department of Energy University Nuclear Leadership Program Fellowships

Davis Bryars and Noah Higgins are recipients of the US Department of Energy (DOE) University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP) Fellowship.

Davis Bryars, a PhD student advised by Dr. Bataller, is completing his first year at NC State in the Molten Salt Ultrafast Spectroscopy Characterization Laboratory (MUSCL). His research focuses on using ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy to uncover fundamental physical and chemical behavior of molten salts.

Noah Higgins, recent graduate of our undergraduate program and first year PhD student, is advised by Dr. Azmy.His overarching long-term career goal is to assist in the development of both Generation IV and small modular reactors.

Twenty eight students at 19 universities received this fellowship.

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NC State nuclear engineering undergraduate team wins first place in Brookhaven nuclear engineering exercise

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) conducted an exercise to evaluate how nuclear engineering students could use National Nuclear Data Center (NNDC) databases to solve problems designed to challenge both undergraduate and graduate students.

Six teams from three universities – NC State, Texas A&M, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) – volunteered to participate in the exercise.

The Undergraduate Division winner was one of the NC State teams – Ryan Charrette, James Krec, and Matt Nash (left to right).

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Coal-dependent Kentucky considers nuclear with help of GAIN and an NC State nuclear engineering student

Last year, Bill Gates was speaking at the Nuclear Energy Assembly’s virtual conference about his company’s plans to build an advanced reactor in Wyoming. Julian Colvin, a 22-year-old nuclear engineering student at North Carolina State University, was listening and posted a question in the chat: “I’m Julian. I go to NC State, and I wonder what a state like Kentucky could do to attract advanced nuclear projects?”

It resulted in a partnership

between Kentucky’s Energy

Office and GAIN to host a

series of webinars with

utilities to discuss what a

clean energy transition would

look like in the bluegrass

state. At a June 29 workshop

utility executives, state

government leaders and

elected officials brainstormed

ways to pursue nuclear energy

as an option.

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NC State Nuclear Engineering students awarded fourteen American Nuclear Society scholarships

Congratulations to our fourteen NC State Nuclear Engineering students, recipients of the 2022-23 American Nuclear Society (ANS) scholarships.

1st row: Alina Jurgan, Lauren A. Kohler, William A. Graham, Allie Pitcher, Grayson S. Gall, Robert J. Mikouchi-Lopez, Abigail M. Davis

2nd row: Samuel O. Webster, Noah M. Higgins, Madeline L. Lockhart,

Khaldoon Al-Dawood, Egemen M. Aras, & Jonathan Crozier

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Five US Department of Energy scholarships awarded to NC State Nuclear Engineering students

Congratulations are in order to five NC State Nuclear Engineering undergraduate students. They are the recipients of the U.S. Department of Energy University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP) scholarships, valued at $10,000 each, in support of nuclear science and engineering educational pursuits.

Left to right: Grayson Gall, Alexandra Akins, Lauren Kohler, Cooper Trucks, & Allie Pitcher

NC State Nuclear Engineering was one of two institutions receiving the greatest number of awards in 2022-23.

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Bailey receives College of Engineering Award of Excellence

Sherry Bailey, university program specialist and manager of special projects in the Department of Nuclear Engineering (NE), is a College of Engineering (COE) Award of Excellence recipient. Four COE staff members received the Awards for Excellence from a group of seventeen nominees.

Sherry was selected in the Spirit of North Carolina category. Awards can be given in the categories of Customer Service, Efficiency and Innovation, Human Relations, Outstanding State Government Service, Public Service and Safety and Heroism, and Spirit of North Carolina.

Working “behind the scenes", Sherry is recognized for positively affecting NE’s culture and elevating its image through her efforts in mentoring the department’s high-achieving students.

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Marshall receives the American Nuclear Society Presidential Citation

Lisa Marshall, director of the Outreach, Retention and Engagement Program, senior lecturer and coordinator of advising in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, was honored with an American Nuclear Society (ANS) Presidential Citation. She was recognized “for her sustained support of ANS over many years and in many areas, most notably education, scholarship, and diversity".

Lisa joined ANS in 2005 and has participated in several initiatives. For example, former chair and current program chair for Education, Training & Workforce Development Division (ETWDD), co-vice chair of the External Affairs Committee, and co-founder, co-vice chair of the Diversity and Inclusion in ANS Committee as well as ANS Student Chapter co-adviser. Lisa also served on its  Board of Directors from 2017 to 2020.

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Upcoming workshops & conferences

Dr. Ivanov, general co-chair, Conference on Nuclear Training and Education: A Biennial International Forum (CONTE 2023), February 2023

Ms. Marshall, technical program committee co-chair, Conference on Nuclear Training and Education: A Biennial International Forum (CONTE 2023), February 2023

Dr. Stapelmann, organizer/host for the International Workshop on Plasma for Cancer Treatment (IWPCT 2023) @ NC State, March 2023

Dr. Diaconeasa, publications chair for the ANS 18th International Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Analysis Topical Conference (PSA 2023) & the Advanced Reactor Safety (ARS) Embedded Topical Meeting at the 2024 ANS Annual Conference

Dr. Hayes, general co-chair, 2024 ANS Embedded Topical Meeting for the Radiation Protection & Shielding Division

From the editor

Academia is always exciting whether we are teaching, doing research or engaged in service.

With colleagues in and out of the department, it has and continues to be a busy and fulfilling time -

  • Launching and teaching during the inaugural NC State Puerto Rico Summer Program in Engineering & Social Sciences;

  • Returning to our in-person three-week summer program for high school students in nuclear engineering;

  • Welcoming new nuclear engineering students to campus;

  • Engaging with returning students and catching up on internship and summer research experiences;or

  • Visiting local high school STEM classes.

I hope you've enjoyed our 1st quarterly newsletter of 2022-23! And share alumni news and photos, send to lisa.marshall@ncsu.edu.



Lisa Marshall

Donations are always welcomed @ NC STATE NUCLEAR 

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