Faculty within the department participate in research from several different areas. Below is a listing of department faculty and their research focus:
Nicholas Brown’s research group focuses on pragmatic multi-physics solutions to nuclear science and engineering challenges. Specific areas of interest include advanced nuclear reactor design, sustainable nuclear fuel cycles, and advanced nuclear fuel and cladding materials.
Coble’s research is primarily in applications of machine learning for equipment condition assessment, process and system monitoring, anomaly detection and diagnosis, failure prognosis, and integrated decision making. Her research interests expand on past work in nuclear system monitoring and prognostics to incorporate system monitoring and remaining useful life estimates into risk assessment, operations and maintenance planning, and optimal control algorithms.
Wes Hines conducts research in artificial intelligence and advanced statistical techniques applied to process diagnostics, condition-based maintenance, and prognostics; and has made notable accomplishments in the invention and development of reliability enhancing condition monitoring technologies.
Arthur Ruggles’ expertise is in fluid flow and heat transfer. His group has developed specialized nuclear instrumentation for opaque fluids and complex flow geometries, with current use in flow in porous media, and recent extension to single cell tracking in pre-clinical PET scanners. Past research applications include accelerator target design, fusion plasma diverter design, and data creation suited to reactor performance model validation supporting extended power uprates.
Professor Emeritus Upadhyaya is focused on instrumentation and controls, reactor dynamics, advanced digital signal processing, power and process plant monitoring and diagnosis, autonomous and fault-tolerant control, small modular reactors, integral light water reactors, sodium fast reactors, molten salt reactors, nuclear desalination, sensor placement strategies, accelerated aging of detectors and equipment, nondestructive examination, and reliability and maintainability engineering.
Wood is leading research into instrumentation and control (I&C) for space nuclear reactors, autonomous operation of advanced reactors and common-cause failure of equipment with embedded digital devices.
David Donovan’s research is focused on fusion energy science, plasma physics, plasma material interactions, and near term applications of nuclear fusion devices. His research group works on projects including plasma and heat flux diagnostic development and analysis with the Proto-MPEX experiment at ORNL, development of a low-flux He implantation stage for testing damage to fusion materials, collaborations with DIII-D fusion experiment on diagnostic development and ex-situ material characterization studies, and impurity transport studies in magnetically confined fusion devices.
Brian Wirth’s research focus is in computational modeling and measurements of radiation effects in materials, molecular dynamics simulation, and nano-materials.
Steven Zinkle’s research interests include deformation and fracture mechanisms in structural materials, advanced manufacturing, and investigation of radiation effects in ceramics, fuel systems, and metallic alloys for fission and fusion energy systems. Much of his research group activities utilize materials science to explore fundamental physical phenomena that are important for advanced nuclear energy applications, focusing on microstructure-property relationships with heavy emphasis on advanced transmission electron microscopy techniques.
Jason Hayward’s research focuses on radiation instrumentation, especially for nonproliferation technologies and imaging. Hayward holds faculty appointments with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where many of his students work, and the joint UT-ORNL Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research. He also serves as the Nuclear Engineering Director of Graduate Studies and as the Deputy Executive Director for the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium. Prior to his time in academia, Hayward served as a U.S. Naval Officer for eight years, working first for Nuclear Propulsion Program and then for the Office of Naval Research and Naval Research Lab.
Lawrence Heilbronn’s research focus includes high-energy secondary neutron measurements from heavy-ion reactions; measurements of radiation transport through novel shielding materials; measurements of fission neutron-induced cross sections; benchmark calculations of heavy-ion transport models; measurements of light-ion production that are relevant to radioprotection; studies of the effects of Galactic Cosmic Rays; and production of radioisotopes for use in medical, power and nuclear security applications.
Eric Lukosi’s research is focused on the development of radiation detection systems. Previous and current research includes advanced sensor design, development, and applications in neutron imaging for nuclear security and materials science studies, particle tracking sensors for the Large Hadron Collider, and quality assurance of radiotherapy cancer treatments. Additionally, he has recently established and is the Director of the Micro-Processing Research Facility at the University of Tennessee.
Chuck Melcher and his graduate students discover and develop new scintillation materials that will form the basis for the next generation of gamma-ray, X-ray, and neutron detectors. Their research typically begins by growing crystals of new materials in the Scintillation Materials Research Center. Students then investigate the radiation response of their crystals using sophisticated instrumentation at the university as well as at various national user facilities. The group is widely known for their discoveries of new materials that are being developed for potential applications in nuclear security inspection systems, medical imaging systems, particle physics experiments, and geophysical exploration.
Hayward’s research focuses on radiation instrumentation, especially for nonproliferation technologies and imaging.
Heilbronn’s research focus includes high-energy secondary neutron measurements from heavy-ion reactions; Measurements of radiation transport through novel shielding materials; Measurements of fission neutron-induced cross sections; Benchmark calculations of heavy-ion transport models; Measurements of light-ion production that are relevant to radioprotection; Studies of the effects of Galactic Cosmic Rays; and Production of radioisotopes for use in medical, power and nuclear security applications.
Lukosi’s research interests include radiation instrumentation and detector development, active and passive interrogation techniques, topics of counterterrorism and nonproliferation, nuclear batteries, and measurement of fundamental nuclear physical quantities.
Miller’s research includes particle and radiation transport, diagnostics and surveillance, waste management, health physics, modeling and simulation, instrumentation and control. His current contract on evaluation of uncertainties of advanced nuclear fuel cycles will facilitate decision making on the selection of reactors and fuel cycles that will provide reliable electrical energy for thousands of years.
Townsend’s research is focused on radiation physics, transport, shielding and risk assessment; nuclear and radiological engineering; theoretical nuclear physics.