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First Step Awards Recognize Student Scholarship

One of the ways the department prepares students for a scholarly career is to mentor them on their path to publishing their first scholarly journal. The Student First Step Awards recognize the work of students who are first authors of in their first peer-reviewed journal article.

Graduate student Mairead Montague, who studies under Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies and Research, Professor, and UCOR Fellow Jason Hayward, conducted research to determine if Tb-doped scintillating glass, which is a promising low-cost replacement for CdWO4 (CWO), the gold standard in industrial and security radiography, was radiation hard.

Her research revealed that it was as hard as CWO, so it could be the future of this technology, helping to allow for more wide-scale deployment of radiography systems for cargo scanning.  Right now, only plastic portal monitors are used at ports of entry.

Graduate student Naser Burahmah, who studies under Lawrence Heilbronn, conducted research into different pathways for production of 225Ac, an isotope, which shows great promise for the treatment of cancer using target alpha therapy. The expected demand for the isotope far exceeds the current supply, and to address that issue, Naser conducted several transport model calculations of beams of protons, deuterons, and alpha particles bombarding 232Th targets.

The results of his investigation suggest that deuteron bombardment of 232Th produces the highest yields of 225Ac through direct and indirect production of its parent isotope, 229Th. His results led to funding from the Department of Energy to conduct more advanced experiments.

Recent doctoral graduate Nathan Gilliam, who studied under Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Studies and Service and Associate Professor and Southern Company Faculty Fellow Jamie Coble conducted research into in situ process monitoring and data-driven approaches for safeguards of electrochemical used nuclear fuel reprocessing (i.e., pyroprocessing).

Gilliam’s paper investigates the possibility of plutonium quantification via the use of the (α,n) neutron signature from dissolved actinides as a potential alternative means to traditional spontaneous fission tracking. Preliminary results indicate that the (α,n) contribution for electrochemical systems is much higher than in its aqueous counterpart and rivals spontaneous fission yield in terms of magnitude.

This year’s Student First Step Award recognitions went to the following students:

  • Mairead Montague, “Radiation Hardness Characterization of LKH-5 Scintillating Glass,” Nuclear Instruments and Methods;
  • Igor Gusev, “Local order of orthorhombic weberite-type Y 3 TaO 7 as determined by neutron total scattering and density functional theory calculations,” Acta Materialia;
  • Devon Drey, “Disorder in Ho2Ti2xZrxO7: pyrochlore to defect fluorite solid solution series,” RSC Advances;
  • Carl Britt, “Directionality for Wearable, Closely Packed Radiation Detector Arrays,” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research;
  • Andrew Decker, “Simulated X-Ray Radiographic Performance of a Bismuth-Loaded PVT Array,” IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science;
  • Xiong Gao, “Evaluating the Improvement of Cross Correlation-Based Flow Measurement by Periodic Fluid Injection,” Nuclear Technology;
  • Naser Burahmah, “Transport model predictions of 225Ac production cross sections via energetic p, d and α irradiation of 232Th targets,” Applied Radiation and Isotopes;
  • Nathan Gilliam, “Examination of (α,n) Signatures as a Means of Plutonium Quantification in Electrochemical Reprocessing,” Nuclear Science and Engineering;
  • Amanda Bachmann, “Comparison and uncertainty of multivariate modeling techniques to characterize used nuclear fuel,” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research;
  • Jose March-Rico, “The effect of local chemical environment on the energetics of stacking faults and vacancy platelets in α,-zirconium,” Journal of Nuclear Materials;
  • Edward Duchnowski, “Reactor performance and safety characteristics of two-phase composite moderator concepts for modular high temperature gas cooled reactors,” Nuclear Engineering and Design;
  • Robby Kile, “Transformational challenge reactor analysis to inform preconceptual core design decisions: Sensitivity study of transient analysis in a hydride-moderated microreactor,” Nuclear Engineering and Design;
  • Visura Pathirana, “Scalable modular dynamic molten salt reactor system model with decay heat,” Annals of Nuclear Energy;
  • Michael Pagan, “Interdiffusion of Elements During Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing,” Metallurgical and Materials Transactions;
  • Tyler Steiner, “Steady-State In-Pile Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Experimental Testbed Initial Demonstration at The Ohio State University Research Reactor,” Nuclear Technology;
  • Josh Smith, “Thermal processing conditions for the synthesis of near theoretical density Li5La3Ta2O12 ceramics for ceramic dual-mode detectors,” Journal of Alloys and Compounds;
  • Micah Folsom, “Characterization of Retroreflective Tape Optical Properties for Use with Position-Sensitive Scintillator Detectors,” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research;
  • Roman Sherrod, “Comparison of short-range order in irradiated dysprosium titanates,” npj Materials Degradation.