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Student Spotlight: Tom Wulz

Meet Tom Wulz

Tom Wulz

Dr. Tom Wulz, graduate of UTNE in the summer of 2017, has made great strides in the development of 3D diamond detectors for his PhD research. Tom, advised by Dr. Eric Lukosi, devised a method to create narrow and tall metal electrodes within a single crystal diamond. This method required reactive ion etching, novel deposition of chromium within the channels, and device testing. The successful fabrication and experimental verification of the first-ever 3D diamond detector using metal electrodes has demonstrated the capability of economically fabricating highly radiation-tolerant, room temperature particle tracking detectors for radiation hard environments. An example of this would be the inner particle tracking detectors on CMS for the high luminosity upgrade at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

HITES12 2017

High School Seniors Participate in Nuclear Forensics Project


The UTK Department of Nuclear Engineering participated in the Engineering Diversity Program’s HITES12 summer program this July 10-14 by hosting a group of four high school seniors in a week-long nuclear forensics project. The project, led by UTNE research professor John Auxier and assisted by Dr. Matt Cook and professor Lawrence Heilbronn, posed the following problem to the students: One-kiloton devices have been detonated in both Houston and New York city, with one of the devices a thermonuclear weapon and the other a radiological dispersal device. Their task was to use nuclear forensics tools such as gamma ray detectors and mass spectrometers to determine the identity and quantity of isotopes collected from the debris, assess the usefulness of each tool, and finally determine the type of device used in each city.

HITES12 2017     HITES12 2017

The first day had the students in the lab, making up samples that simulate the melt glass produced in each city. The pictures show the students carefully weighing each component of the sample using “recipes” for each city developed by UTNE researchers. As the students found out, measuring out a sample to precisely 0.003 grams can be challenging. The next day the students went to the UTNE teaching labs to work with both NaI and HPGe detectors, noting the advantages and disadvantages each detector system brings to the nuclear forensics table. The third day had the students up in the Radiochemistry Center of Excellence’s mass spectrometry lab to see how melt glass samples are dissolved and eventually analyzed using the lab’s ICP mass spectrometer. The fourth day tied all of the evidence together and had the students analyze each piece to conclude which city was hit with which device, as well as work on their power point presentation they gave to the entire HITES12 program.
HITES12 2017
In addition to the group project, the NE Department hosted the entire HITES12 group of students on Wednesday to give a tour of our facilities and describe the opportunities for students who come to UTK to study nuclear engineering. The HITES12 program, led by Engineering Diversity Programs director Travis Griffin, attracts some of the brightest high school seniors from around the country who are interested in STEM. We hope to see some of these students become UTNE Volunteers starting in the fall of 2019.

Learn more about HITES12 here

ANS Honors NE Faculty

Professor Richard Wood has been selected as a 2017 fellow of the American Nuclear Society, one of the highest honors a nuclear engineer can achieve. Richard’s award was presented during the ANS annual conference in San Francisco June 11-15.

Richard Wood is the fifth faculty member in the department to be named an ANS Fellow, along with Hines, Chancellor’s Professor and Robert M. Condra Professor Lawrence Townsend, Professor Belle Upadhyaya, and UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Nuclear Materials Steven Zinkle. Several part-time and emeritus faculty members of the department also hold the distinction.

Assistant Professor Jamie Coble was also honored with the society’s HFICD Ted Quinn Early Career Award, for her work with nuclear safety.
Read More about Faculty Awards Here

Congratulations ANS Scholarship Winners

This year the American Nuclear Society bestowed 11 scholarships on our students, during its annual meeting in San Francisco, June 11-15. That number, a record for the department, is the latest sign of recognition of UT as a national leader in nuclear engineering education.

Sophomore Undergraduate 
Mullin S. Green, of Maryville, Tennessee

Undergraduate (Junior/Senior)
Kalie Knecht, of Charleston, West Virginia

ANS Joseph Naser HFIC Division Undergraduate Scholarship
Austin Saint-Vincent, of Vero Beach, Florida

Operations and Power Division Scholarship
Andrew V. Volkovitskiy, of Louisville, Kentucky

Rudy Stamm’ler Undergraduate Reactor Physics Scholarship 
Gavin K. Ridley, of Seymour, Tennessee

Graduate  Scholarship
Rachel Gaudet, of Clarksville, Tennessee

James F. Schumar Scholarship
Jessica Bishop, of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Robert E. Uhrig Graduate Scholarship
Fan Zhang, of Shanxi, China

Vogt Radiochemistry Scholarship
Austin Mullen, of West Chester, Ohio

John and Muriel Landis Scholarships 
John C. Wagner (hometown withheld)

Washington, DC Local Section Undergraduate Scholarship
Christopher Haseler, of Fairfax, Virginia

Read More Here

Student Spotlight: Wouter de Wet

Meet Wouter de Wet


Wouter is a current Ph.D. student in Nuclear Engineering set to finish his Doctorate in December of 2017.  Wouter graduated with his B.S. in Nuclear Engineering in the spring of 2014 where immediately after, Wouter was the most junior of 16 people selected to attend the 2014 NASA Space Radiation Summer School at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The other 15 attendees, from the USA and a variety of other countries, were senior Ph.D. students, postdocs, and junior faculty. He completed his Masters in August of 2015, during this time at the University of Tennessee he has coauthored five published (one as lead author), refereed journal articles and has coauthored three others (one as lead author) under current review by prestigious journals. He has presented two invited papers – one at a national American Nuclear Society conference and the other at the Mars Space Radiation Modeling workshop at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He has also presented/coauthored 11 additional conference presentations (7 as first author), for his achievements Wouter received the department’s PhD Graduate Research Excellence Award in 2017.

What do nuclear engineering grad students do during their spring break?

What do nuclear engineering grad students do during their spring break? They jump in a UTK van and road trip to New Jersey to see one of country’s biggest fusion experiments!

Five grad students (Anurag Maan, Jonah Duran, Seung-Sup Lee, Joe Kelsey, Shawn Zamperini) went with Dr. Donovan to Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory last week and toured the NSTX-U fusion experiment (currently down for maintenance) and LTX-Beta as well as the new Andlinger Center material characterization laboratories at Princeton University.

“We had a great experience and surprisingly little traffic on the 11 hour drive” – Dr. Donovan

Dr. Dodds ‘Energy Choices and Consequences’

Dr. Dodds

Dr. H. L. (Lee) Dodds, Professor Emeritus and Former Head of the UT Nuclear Engineering Department, recently gave invited presentations on ‘Energy Choices and Consequences’ to the Western South Carolina local section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and also to the Savannah River local section of the American Nuclear Society (ANS). Both presentations were based on a seminar course entitled ‘Energy Choices and Consequences,’ which Dr. Dodds originally developed, continually updates, and teaches annually as part of the UT Honors Program.


2017 TMS awards ceremony - Zinkle2017 TMS awards ceremony - Zinkle

Zinkle Selected for 2017 Institute of Metals Lecture and Robert Franklin Mehl Award

Dr. Steven J. Zinkle has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Institute of Metals Lecture and Robert Franklin Mehl Award. The lecture and award will be conveyed on March 1, 2017, in connection with the 146th Annual Meeting of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) in San Diego, California. This award recognizes an outstanding scientific leader by inviting him/her to present a lecture at the Society’s Annual Meeting on a technical subject of particular interest to members in the materials science and application of metals program areas. This award is considered a TMS pinnacle award. The honoree’s lecture will be published in Metallurgical and Materials Transaction A. Zinkle is the UT/ORNL Governor’s Chair for Nuclear Materials.

For more information, click here.

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