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Annual Report 2016-17



MISSION To serve our state, our nation and our global community by nurturing future nuclear engineering professionals and leaders who are: •

instilled with the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior

prepared to meet the complex challenges associated with sustainably expanding peaceful uses of nuclear energy

enhancing global nuclear security and avoiding the dangers of nuclear proliferation

VISION To develop and maintain a nationally and internationally recognized program that promotes a passion for understanding and applying the knowledge of nuclear science and engineering to support the nation’s alternative energy, national security and healthcare missions.

HISTORY The decision to enter the field of nuclear engineering was made in 1957, while Dr. John C. Calhoun was the dean of engineering. Our AGN-201 nuclear training reactor was purchased and installed in the mechanical engineering shops building, under the direction of Dr. Richard E. Wainerdi in 1957. In 1958, university leadership agreed that a Department of Nuclear Engineering should be created and that graduate programs in nuclear engineering be authorized. At that time, only two degree programs were administered: a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering. The undergraduate program was established in 1966.



WELCOME FROM THE DEPARTMENT HEAD I am pleased to present the 2016-17 Annual Report. This year has been a momentous one for our department, a result of our diligent efforts in research, engineering education and teaching excellence. We could not have done this without the support of our talented faculty and staff, as well as our valued alumni and partners within industry, national laboratories and government agenices. I thank you for your continued support of our program. This year we have taken even more steps to increase the diversity of our students and researchers, create innovative and novel teaching methodologies and put forth groundbreaking and industry-defining research that is not only preparing and enriching the minds of young engineers today, but preparing them to solve tomorrow’s engineering challenges. Our graduate program maintains its prestige among the highest ranked programs in the nation, ranked third among public institutions in U.S. News & World Report’s survey, “America’s Best Graduate Schools 2017.” Our enrollment also continues to grow as a result of 25 by 25, the Texas A&M University College of Engineering’s transformational controlled growth initiative to increase access for qualified students to pursue engineering education and increase enrollment to 25,000 students by 2025. Our dedication to research in all areas of the nuclear engineering discipline produced over $13 million in expenditures for our department by the end of 2016. Our research collaborations have produced novel contributions to the areas of nuclear power engineering, computational methodologies, nuclear materials and nuclear securities and safeguards. Our research has fostered international collaborations and work with state and government bodies, including national laboratories. I know that you will enjoy this summation of the department’s efforts this year, and as we continue building relationships in the pursuit of academic excellence, innovative research and high quality teaching, We are pleased to continue to grow with all of you as our program continues to improve and excel. I look forward to the opportunity to welcome you to our department soon. Very Respectfully,

Yassin A.

Hassan Department Head Sallie & Don Davis ‘61 Professor in Nuclear Engineering






Department Overview


Fellowships & Scholarships


Research Articles


Graduate Student Theses & Dissertations


Research Groups


Nuclear Engineering Advisory Council


Faculty Profiles


Retired & Emeritus Faculty


Featured Former Students


Stewardship 27

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Radiological health engineering B.S.


Nuclear engineering B.S.


263 32 Asian

9 7 Black









NUEN M.S. 18 first-time students

NUEN Ph.D. 10 first-time students






American Indian (1)

33 Asian












Accelerator Laboratory

Center for Large-scale Scientific Simulations (CLASS)

Fuel Cycle and Materials Laboratory (FCML)

Institute for National Security, Education & Research (INSER)

Interphase Transport Phenomena Laboratory (ITP)

Laser Diagnostic Multiphase Flow Laboratory

Micro-Beam Cell Irradiation Facility

Nuclear Heat Transfer Systems Laboratory

Nuclear Power Institute (NPI)

Nuclear Science Center (1 MW Triga Reactor) (NSC)

Nuclear Security Science & Policy Institute (NSSPI)

Radiation Detection Measurement Laboratory

Nuclear Power Plant Simulator Engineering Lab

FACULTY Tenured/tenure track Full professors Associate professors Assistant professors

15 5 7 3

Academic professional track Senior lecturers Professors of practice Research faculty Emeritus faculty

13 2 2 4 5

Faculty Service Professional society members Professional society committee members National Engineering Academy members

5 9 1




College of Engineering Graduate Teaching Fellowship Lane Carasik Jordan Douglas

National Space Biomedical Research Institute Fellowship Jim Chisholm

Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Diversity Fellowship (Master’s) Katie Cook Andrew Marvel

Integrated University Program (IUP) Samuel Lee

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Fellowship Dahvien Dean Jackson Wagner

Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Diversity Fellowship (Doctoral) Barbara Fisher Henry Rysz

Nuclear Energy University Program Fellowship Tyler Hughes

Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Pathways Bridge to Doctorate Lance White





College of Engineering Scholarship NUEN incoming freshmen Madeline Mcgauley Tjader De Alba James Burke Stephen Clifford

Adams Family Scholarship Matthew Sopa

Neff-Poston Health Physics Scholarship Cailin O’Connell

Mitty C. Plummer ‘65 Scholarship Evan Gonzalez Hannah Moore Mateusz Marciniak


Jeff W. Simmons ‘85 Scholarship Jackson Pybus Jacob Smith

Rottler & LaCroix Scholarship Hong Jun Zhu Dallin Nielsen

RD Neff Memorial Scholarship Matthew Bindeman Michael Gorman

Eloise Vezey Dromgoole Scholarship Kate Saucke

Bill R. Teer ‘55 Scholarship Samuel Olivier Andrew Hermosillo

Tom ‘81 and Melody ‘80 Geer Scholarship Zachary Hardy

David G. Barker ‘66 Scholarship Matthew Wilkin

Marna G. Kissmann ‘90 End Scholarship Soleil Hernandez

Harold Joe Giroir Jr. Memorial Scholarship Rishi Patel


FICK IS FIRST NORTH AMERICAN AWARDED AKIYAMA MEDAL Lambert Fick, a doctoral student in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University, received the Akiyama Medal for the best overall student paper as a part of the Student Paper Competition at the International Nuclear Engineering Conference (ICONE 24), held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fick is the first North American student to receive the Akiyama Medal, a prestigious award presented by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME), in the conference’s 24-year history. Fick’s paper reflected his research relating to a new conceptual design of pebble bed nuclear reactors and was one of more than 120 papers submitted at the conference. Fick’s research is directed toward advanced nuclear reactors of complex flow within a pebble bed design, an aspect that has traditionally represented a challenge for computational research groups.

Fick is the first North American student to receive the Akiyama Medal in the conference’s 24-year history. “These flows are complex to simulate using computational tools,” Fick said. “We look at specific phenomena relating to turbulence, kinetic energy, the long-term temporal instabilities and the basic engineering parameters with higher order statistics, things of that nature that help us understand and apply the physics to design safer nuclear reactors.” Fick is an intern at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago where he works with the lab’s nuclear engineering division. Dr. Yassin Hassan, head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering, serves as his faculty advisor. “My day is spent staring at computer screens doing simulations on the lab’s computing system, which is pretty cool because this is one of the fastest super computer cluster systems in the world,” Fick said. “We do very high degree simulations of these fluid flows on the order of thousands or tens of thousands of CPUs at a time to do these calculations. It’s pretty impressive stuff.” Fick and the computational team use geometries to simulate these flows and delve into the physics behind these reactor designs. Based on the understanding they generate from the simulations, they are able to extrapolate different developmental models to reduce computational costs to a design project. After having interned at Argonne for three years, Fick is hoping to pursue a position at the lab after receiving his Ph.D., and continuing his work related to advanced nuclear reactors. “We make some small incremental steps forward in our knowledge at a time, but the fact that we work on spherical or complex domains with a lot of curvature is a pretty novel thing,” Fick said. “I’m really interested in continuing this line of research since I feel that it really has some potential to impact the broad engineering community in a positive way.”



CERT RESEARCHERS ADVANCE PREDICTIVE SCIENCE FOR THERMAL RADIATION TRANSPORT The next generation of computers will operate at the exascale, which means that they will perform 1018 arithmetic (floating-point) operations per second, and numerical methods must be designed following certain computer science principles to be efficient on such computers. A multidisciplinary research team with the Center for Exascale Radiation Transport (CERT) at Texas A&M University is continuing to develop and validate new computational methods, applicable on exascale computers, for predicting measured quantities of interest related to thermal radiation “transport” in very hot matter. Thermal radiation “transport” is the emission, absorption, scattering and movement of thermal radiation within matter. Thermal radiation, also known as black body radiation, is emitted, absorbed and scattered by all matter. The amount and mean frequency of the radiation emitted rapidly increase with increasing temperature. The main application for CERT is high-energy laser experiments, which generate material temperatures on the order of 2 million degrees Fahrenheit. However, thermal radiation can be significant in many types of systems operating at much lower temperatures, including industrial boilers, turbine engines and nuclear reactors. The center’s research involves experiments, in addition to exascale computational methods development. Computer simulations are combined with experiments and statistical methods to estimate the accuracy with which measured quantities of interest can be predicted. The main idea is to recognize that there are many sources of uncertainty in both numerical simulations and experiments, and to statistically account for their cumulative effect on a predicted quantity of interest.


Neutron flux contours from an isotropic point burst of neutrons 9.5 nanoseconds after the burst started.

Relevant sources of uncertainty are not always obvious, and a major part of the center’s research is using a process known as hierarchical uncertainty quantification to help determine if all sources of uncertainty have been identified and properly characterized. “Our numerical simulations, which are performed on the fastest and largest computers available today, our experiments and our hierarchical uncertainty quantification methods help us to understand the extent to which of our new computational methods for radiation transport can be used to predict quantities of interest,” said Dr. Jim Morel, director and

principal investigator of CERT. “We are steadily advancing the state-of-the-art in this regard.” The center was created and is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration under its Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program. CERT is led by Texas A&M, but it includes researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Simon Fraser University in Canada, as well as Texas A&M researchers from both the Departments of Nuclear Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering. The project was initially funded at $2 million a year for five years and will be extended for a sixth year.


RESEARCHER STUDIES CONNECTION OF TRACE ELEMENTS AS CANCER TREATMENT INDICATOR IN RADIATION DOSES Undergraduate student researcher Cailin O’Connell is helping to break new ground in radiation treatments by studying the connection of trace elements of zinc and their ability to be used as a treatment indicator for treating cancer to ensure accurate radiation dosages. Certain trace elements have the possibility to negate the effects of dangerous free radicals that can be created in the body during radiation and O’Connell’s project is breaking fundamental ground in helping to understand how these elements may open pathways to better treat patients.

O’Connell’s participation in this research project is supervised by Rihana Bokhari, a kinesiology doctoral student working under a research grant from NASA in relation to space biology research. Dr. Susan Bloomfield, professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M, is the principal investigator on the project.

reaction where they take an electron from a water molecule, and that water molecule goes on to take an electron from another water molecule and so on. DNA is surrounded by water, so you have this issue where you get problems like carcinogenesis where you have cancer that starts in the body because of irregularities in DNA.”

“When you’re exposed to radiation, free radicals are created in the body and zinc makes those free radicals, which are missing an electron, fulfilled by giving them an electron,” O’Connell said. “If this doesn’t happen, free radicals can go on to create a chain

O’Connell explained that through the team’s experimentation they hope to use this data, with zinc as an example, to create a diagnostic tool for determining how trace elements at specific quantities in the body can help or hurt patients so it can be applied to future research. The mechanisms of how the trace elements affect the absorption of free radicals within the tissues are not yet entirely clear, but O’Connell is excited to have contributed to what she views as fundamental research that may one day lead to something better. The research, which began as a part of Texas A&M’s Summer Research Grant Program, has contributed to her professional success by helping her secure an internship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory this past summer. “There is not a lot of research in this area so we are breaking new ground on this right now,” O’Connell said. “We’re trying to find this threshold where we are causing more good than harm with these treatments. It is very cool for me to think that someone could read my research in a journal one day and that could become a stepping off point for them. Just seeing all the cumulative buildup of this knowledge is cool and I’ve been excited to be a part of that.” This project is sponsored by NASA via the Space Biology Grant. The grant number is NNX13AL25G.



RESEARCHERS BUILD LARGEST TRANSPARENT FUEL TEST ASSEMBLY IN THE WORLD Researchers with the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University have provided new insights into the workings of an advanced sodium-cooled fast reactor fuel assembly, having used a specialized test facility to measure hydraulic parameters and validate computational tools used in reactor design and testing. The fast reactor assembly design used is significant, not only because of the complex inner knowledge it can provide about advanced reactors, but also because the Texas A&M experiment is using the largest transparent test fuel assembly of its kind to date. “TerraPower, AREVA and Argonne National Laboratories (ANL) have a strong interest in this new fuel design that will be potentially used in advanced fast reactors,” said Dr. Rodolfo Vaghetto, a research assistant professor with the department and project investigator. “This research is part of the work we do to ensure a new design goes from conceptual to something that you can actually build, operate safely and use to produce clean energy in an efficient way.” While the test assembly is unique in that it is the largest of its kind ever constructed, the researchers have also ensured the measurements taken are accurate through a novel technique, a transparent assembly. “Typical test assemblies are encapsulated in a stainless-steel container so you can’t see what’s going on,” Vaghetto said. “We made this assembly in acrylic so we can watch the processes and apply state-of-the-art techniques to measure full-field velocities at different locations inside the test bundle and pressure drops, something that has never been done before at this level of accuracy. That experimental data is then used by other members of this project, like TerraPower and ANL, to compare with their simulations of the assembly on the computational side and validate those tools.” The project was established in 2015 and is managed by nuclear utility company AREVA (subcontracted through the Department of Energy (DOE) in partnership with ANL, Texas A&M and TerraPower, the nuclear energy tech conglomerate led by Bill Gates. In the interest of taking the most accurate measurements possible, the researchers used a specialized fluid that has the same index of refraction as the acrylic of the assembly. They then inject the solution with a fluorescent dye and other seeding particles and expose it to a laser to obtain high-resolution measurements in their efforts to produce these high-quality measurements. The next step for the Texas A&M research team will be to continue experiments on the assembly for further developments, analyzing experimental data and collecting new data using the existing test assembly in partnership with other national and international collaborators. “There is a lot of interest in this type of geometry design for advanced fast reactors,” Vaghetto said. “This assembly seems to be the number-one fuel design right now, and these companies are looking forward in meeting their interests in performing these analyses. Because of the interest in this we’re hoping to get the chance to work on future projects with this assembly.”



NUCLEAR RESEARCHERS SEEK TO EXTEND NUCLEAR FUEL LIFE AND EFFICIENCY THROUGH IMPROVED FUEL PELLETS Researchers with the Fuel Cycles and Materials Laboratory within the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University are creating porous fuel pellets for use in reactors to extend fuel life, possibly reduce waste and increase the amount of energy the reactor can get out of the fuel. The project is a joint initiative with calibrators at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Idaho National Laboratory. Graduate student researcher Yesenia Salazar works under the group’s principal investigator Dr. Sean McDeavitt, associate professor of nuclear engineering and director of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Nuclear Science Center. Salazar’s job is to work with copper powder and produce the fuel pellets and test them under various pressures and scenarios to see how they perform in reactor-like conditions. Salazar works specifically with copper because its properties can be translated into digital code more easily, which is an important aspect for the computational side of this project involving modeling the behavior of the fuel pellets. “Our overall goal is that when we make this pellet, we take measurements for the porosity that it has,” Salazar said. “We’re trying to be able to have pores that are more or less homogeneous, where they are not just in one section of the pellet. If we can get more or less homogenous pores, we test them at these different pressure and temperature levels to see how they would perform inside a reactor setting.” The pores in these fuel pellets are meant to help counteract a phenomenon that occurs during nuclear power generation, where, after a short time, the pellets begin to swell because of the gases and fission products that are expelled during the energy generation process.

This expansion, if continued beyond a certain point, becomes dangerous not only in the process of producing energy, but also when the fuel source eventually has to be removed. Delaying the expansion of these pellets is where the pores come in. “We believe that if you have even just a little bit of porosity introduced into these pellets, those gases that are coming out and that swelling is happening will accumulate to make up for the space in those pores,” Salazar said. “It works very similar to the way a kitchen sponge works, soaking up all the water it can before its pores are full, at which point it expels the water. We want to delay the expulsion as long as we can.”

According to Salazar, the average lifespan of a nuclear fuel cycle can last anywhere from 16 to 36 months, and researchers are hoping that the pellets may extend the process at least an additional week or more. This translates into significant energy production per ton of fuel. “The potential of nuclear power is truly humongous,” Salazar said. “This research is really great so far and can have even greater results years from now, but I feel like those results can only be empowered if the general public’s view is more accepting of the benefits of nuclear energy.”




Researchers within the department’s Ion Beam Laboratory group are speeding up the clock on metallic alloys and steels, using ions as surrogates for neutron radiation to see in a short amount of time how stable these metals are after they endure conditions from decades of use inside a nuclear reactor. “We’re essentially taking these alloys and irradiating with ions to achieve damage seen in reactor-like conditions,” said Jonathan Gigax, a graduate assistant researcher who works under the lab’s principal investigator, associate professor Dr. Lin Shao. According to Gigax, this research helps qualify and screen a large number of candidate alloys, whose test results provide an understanding of the unique properties that make certain alloys radiation resistant. This allows new alloys to be developed for use in reactor construction and help achieve efficient use of the reactor’s fuel. To achieve optimum efficiency the reactor has to operate at a high burnup, which places stress on the metals and alloys within the reactor. To achieve highly


efficient fuel burnups, alloys that can resist microstructural changes from damage produced neutron radiation, also known as creep and swelling, are necessary to ensure a long working life for the reactor. “A good example of creep phenomena would be a filament in an incandescent light bulb,” Gigax said. “The filament remains at a very high temperature for a long period of time and slowly deforms until it breaks. The same thing can happen with steels at high temperatures or under large stresses, so the idea was that we needed to develop an alloy that does not exhibit creep to a large extent.”

said. “We can look at what makes one alloy better than the others and then guide the further development of that alloy based on its positive qualities, or once you identify a good alloy you can dedicate resources to having that put inside a nuclear reactor to test it in the exact conditions.” Through the usage of the ion accelerators, the time and cost commitment for reactor testing is dramatically reduced, allowing the research to advance efficiently. In addition to ensuring a longer working life and durability of these reactor materials, these applications also have benefits for the consumer.

The steels used in the reactor, as a result of creep and swelling, undergo deformation and change the operating behavior of the reactor. Single crystal metals are resistant to creep but are expensive to make and typically exhibit more void swelling than polycrystalline counterparts. Very small grains offer better swelling resistance but make the steel susceptible to creep.

“We are contributing to the energy needs of the nation,” Gigax said. “By contributing to the development of materials that can take the added radiation stress of operating at higher, more efficient fuel burnups, which translates to more energy output per source of fuel, we’re helping make cheaper and more accessible energy for the average consumer.”

“Once you get all these research results, there are two things we can do,” Gigax

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.


TEXAS A&M NUCLEAR RESEARCH TEAM SOLVES GENERIC SAFETY ISSUE 191 IN COLLABORATION WITH SOUTH TEXAS PROJECT PLANT A research team with the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University, in collaboration with the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC), has solved the problem of a loss of coolant accident in a nuclear reactor, which can cause debris to be generated and potentially impact the performance of the safety system. The team provided a solution to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for Generic Safety Issue 191 (GSI191). GSI-191 regards the generation of debris during a loss of coolant accident and the potential consequences to the emergency system performance. The methodology that the team has developed will allow this safety issue to be addressed in light water reactors (LWR) across the country and is the first to be approved by the NRC.

similarities and variable differences between plants. Texas A&M’s collaboration with STPNOC on this project began in 2010, where through seven years of partnership and continuous interactions between five divisions and 14 branches of the NRC staff, the methodology was developed. In developing this methodology, two risk-informed approaches were used, the full risk-informed approach and the risk over deterministic method. The department’s main attribution to this project is through the thermal hydraulics calculations and experimental studies performed. Texas A&M is the first to perform these types of complex analyses, with over 100

different scenarios simulated. Through the approval process of the licensing amendment, more than 50 public meetings and 400 requests of additional information were completed, in addition to 13 project audits, before the license amendment was issued in July 2017. “We’ve made great progress in the nuclear power plant safety methodology and we look forward to other nuclear plants adopting the STPNOC methodology to resolve the GSI-191 issue,” said Rodolfo Vaghetto, co-principal investigator with the project and a research assistant professor at Texas A&M.

The loss of coolant accident is a design basis accident, meaning that when a reactor design is licensed, it has to be designed to handle these type of accidents safely under any circumstance. GSI-191 is a safety issue that results during a loss of coolant accident where debris can be generated and potentially impact the performance of the safety system pumping water through the primary system in an attempt to cool the reactor to safe levels. The debris blocking sump strainers and other flow paths can cause insufficient amounts of water to be recycled through the system, which means the reactor isn’t being cooled efficiently or safely. To solve this problem, STPNOC partnered with Texas A&M to develop a widely applicable methodology, approved by the NRC, that can be applied to theoretically any operating LWR plant across the country. The methodology provides guidance on evaluating the safety level of the plant against the GSI-191, accounting for



NUCLEAR POWER PLANT SIMULATOR LAB PROVIDES HANDS ON EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR STUDENTS Have you ever had interest in operating a nuclear power plant? The Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University is providing students with industry experience, enhancing their education with the Nuclear Power Plant Simulator Laboratory. The laboratory simulator provides hands-on training to students, teaching them how to handle operating a real reactor under a variety of situations and scenarios. The device also supplements classroom coursework, allowing the students to put concepts they have learned in the classroom to practice in a safe and secure environment. The laboratory that houses the simulator has two types of power plant simulators, a set of broad scope simulators, including IAEA simulators, and a PCTRAN simulator and a fullscope GSE GPWR simulator. “The simulator laboratory provides a unique learning environment,” said Dr. Pavel Tsvetkov, associate professor of nuclear engineering and faculty graduate advisor. “It gives students the platform to develop a thorough


understanding how plant systems are working together from power systems, to energy grid infrastructures, accounting for their electricity generation, as well as cyber physical security implications.” The simulator offers a variety of situation specific scenarios, including academic demonstrations of safe operation usage, allowing students to step into the shoes of a nuclear reactor plant operator inside of a live control room. In addition to the simulator’s educational uses for students, it also supports research efforts in areas related to the dynamics and control of light water reactor plants, helping better understand interactions between the reactor and energy grid that occur during operation. The simulator also serves a function by providing insight regarding the operation, safety evaluation and human factors that impact the plant’s usage and efficiency. “We are utilizing the simulators in our joint research efforts and engaging both graduate and undergraduate students,”

Tsvetkov said. “We’re envisioning that the simulator environment will serve as a computational framework for research and development in various existing and emerging areas of interest involving current and future nuclear reactors and plant systems. The opportunities are really limitless. We have interests in design, operation, safety, grid interfaces, security, humanmachine interfaces and many others.” While the department currently has two nuclear reactors for education and research, the simulator serves as yet another avenue for these initiatives. “In the spirit of working to developing the next cohort of the nuclear workforce the simulator allows us to expose our students to the plant equipment and its features,” Tsvetkov said. “This offers a real nuclear plant environment that will only serve to benefit our students and our research. Our students get once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run a nuclear power plant as they would have if they would be at the plant.”



Thesis/Dissertation Title

Mason Childs

Quantification of Boric Acid Concentration and Losses due to Vaporization in the PASTA Facility

Yesenia Gonzalez

Deconvoluting an Americium-Beryllium Neutron Spectrum from a Proton Recoil Detector

Mohammad Hawila

Combined Safety and Security Risk Evaluation Considering Safety and Security-type Initiating Events

Akansha Kumar

An Iterative Optimization Method Using Genetic Algorithms and Gaussian Process Based Regression in Nuclear Reactor Design Applications

Vasileios Kyriakopoulos

Effect of Chemical Injections on Pressure Drop through a Fibrous Debris Bed

Jacob Landman

Variance Reduction Strategies for Implicit Monte Carlo Simulations

Lance Merchant

Neutronics Simulations of Graphite Experiments

Jose Trevino

Post Radiological Incident Dosimetry for Search and Rescue Dogs

Pablo Vaquer

Comparing Contiguous and Discontiguous Energy Grids and Propogating Uncertainties for Radiation Transport Finite Element Methods

Todd Williams

The Effect of DC Voltage on Fibrous Debris Bypass Through a Containment Sump Strainer

Weixiong Zheng

Least-Squares and Other Residual Based Techniques for Radiation Transport Calculations

Nolan Goth

Design and PIV Shakedown of a Wire-wrapped 61-rod Hexagonal Fuel Assembly Experimental Facility

Talal Harahsheh

Production of Mo-99/Tc-99m via Photo-Neutron Reaction Using Natural Molybdenum

Nicholas Luthman

Evaluation of Impulse Turbine Performance Under Wet Steam Conditions

Lauren Pompilio

Analysis of 10 CFR Part 810 General Authorization Data on Assistance to Foreign Atomic Energy Activities

Zachary Prince

Improved Quasi-static Methods for Time-dependent Neutron Diffusion and Implementation in Rattlesnake

Innocent Tsorxe

Baseline Measurements of Natural Radioactivity at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service - Disaster City

Brandon Blamer

Characterization of Uranium Metal Alloy Fuel Forms for Advanced Nuclear Reactor Applications

Simon Bolding

A High-Order Low-Order Algorithm with Exponentially-Convergent Monte Carlo for Thermal Radiative Transfer Problems

Lane Carasik

Investigation of Solution Verification and Validation of Nuclear Thermal Hydraulics Computational Fluid Dynamics using Twin Rectangular Turbulent Jets

Lambert Fick

Direct Numerical Simulation of Incompressible Flows in Domains of Close Packed Spheres

Sarah Over

Assessment of Acute Radiation Outside Low Earth Orbit: Likelihood and Integration for Mission Risks

Christopher Fullerton

Characterization and Validation of Surrogate Aluminum Nitrate Salt Precipitate in Support of GSI-191 Head Loss Testing

Joseph Fustero

MCNP6 Code Development for one Dimensional Position Sensitive Thermal Neutron Detectors

Danielle Redhouse

Uncertainty Quantification of a Genetic Algorithm for Nuetron Energy Spectrum Adjustment

Bradley Beeny

Computational Multiphase Fluid Dynamics Analyses of and Systems-level Model Development for a Reactor Core Isolation Cooling System Terry Turbine

Jennifer Erchinger

Development and Demonstration of an Ultra-low-background Liquid Scintillation Counter

Hans Hammer

Nonlinear Diffusion Acceleration in Voids for the Least-squares Transport Equation

Thomas Martin

Production and Distillation of the Therapeutic Radionuclide 211At at the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute

Fatih Sarikurt

Multi-scale Analysis of Momentum and Buoyancy Driven Flows in Nuclear Reactor Systems

Joseph Wallace

Radiation Damage Studied by Pulsed Ion Beams




Nuclear Safety, Safeguards, Security and Nonproliferation Research Themes • Proliferation and risk analysis, safeguards systems and instrument development, combating nuclear terrorism, nuclear forensics and attribution, arms control and ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Notable Accomplishments • First university to mount and record radiation data from a crane used in port operations, developed SINRD detectors with Los Alamos National Laboratory for testing by the International Atomic Energy Agency, developed the SHIELD framework to interdict highly enriched uranium at borders, developed PRAETPR tool latency method for proliferation risk analysis, collaborator in the GNEII program, developed a methodology to determine which states will pursue nuclear avenues and conducted international research and education in India, Russia, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and England.



Computational Modeling and Simulations Research Themes • Multi-physics coupling with application to reactors and high-energy density physics, transport discretization and solution schemes, parallelization, shock hydrodynamics methods, adaptive-mesh transport and diffusion and uncertainty quantification applied to transport and nuclear reliability. Notable Accomplishments • Demonstrated an exponentially-convergent Monte Carlo algorithm for a continuum transport system, developed and implemented a massively-parallel longcharacteristic transport method, pioneered adaptive mesh refinement techniques for transport solvers, engineered a tightly coupled multi-physics software platform and devised robust and accurate spherical harmonics methods for time-dependent transport.

Nuclear Power Research Themes • Nuclear reactor safety, nuclear reactor and system analysis and optimization, validation and uncertainty of CFD codes, sub-channel analysis of advanced fuel designs, reactor physics, small modular reactors, integration of PRA and best estimate codes, loading optimization for current advanced reactors, flow visualization in complex reactor geometries (PIV), data uncertainty validation and uncertainties, advanced reactor instrumentation, threedimensional study of two-phase flows, and core hot-spot prediction. Interphase transport phenomena research, including the development of thermal fluid technologies, design and fabrication and operation of reduced gravity hardware, support of external agencies in undertaking flight testing, two-phase fluid research. Thermal hydraulics research, including pure and applied research to support the nuclear energy industry, research on non-nuclear applications and experimental and computational research in the area of light water reactors, generation IV power plants and advanced nuclear reactors, integrated code system for advanced systems and first of a kind three-dimensional fuel management and instrumentation. Notable Accomplishments • Published results on gas/liquid flooding in large diameter tubes, modeling condensation heat transfer, integrated system evaluation notes for HTRs, evaluation capabilities for HTRs.

Nuclear Materials Research Themes • Radiation tolerant cladding materials, advanced fuel fabrication methods, advanced radiation detector, advanced neutron generator, nuclear waste behavior, monitoring and processing, aerosol research and multi-scale modeling of materials degradation under extreme conditions. Notable Accomplishments • Developing fabrication methods and evaluating the performance of novel nuclear fuel forms, fabrication of alloys U-zr and U-Mo, fabrication of ceramic UO2-BeO composite, dispersion of metal matrix alloys and barrier coating methods, characterization of metallurgy of U-Zr and U-Mo alloy fuels, developed swelling resistant metallic and ceramic materials, developed multi-scale modeling codes to understand damage evolution caused by fission fragments and developed bendable neutron detection sheets.



NUCLEAR ENGINEERING ADVISORY COUNCIL The Nuclear Engineering Advisory Council provides support and counsel to the department head with the purpose of helping maintain the highest level of academic excellence so that its graduates remain at the forefront of the nuclear engineering professional practice in Texas and the nation. The advisory council accomplishes this mission by working with the department head to strengthen the department’s existing degree program specialty areas, fostering constructive interactions with leading nuclear engineering practitioners, participating in the ABET accreditation process and serving as a resource to the department’s faculty and students.

Members Carol Berrigan Senior Director, Industry Infrastructure Nuclear Energy Institute Dr. Regis Matzie (Co-Chair) President RAMatzie Nuclear Technology Consulting, LLC Jeffrey Bradfute Vice President, Fuel Engineering and Safety Analysis Westinghouse Electric Company Dr. Kostadin Nikolov Ivanov Department Head, Nuclear Engineering North Carolina State University Christopher D’Angelo Senior Director Zachry Engineering Martin Parece Vice President and CTO Areva Inc. Stacey Eaton Division Leader for Nuclear Engineering Los Alamos National Laboratory Tim Powell Executive Vice President and CNO South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company Rafael Flores (Chair) Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Luminant Power, Retired


Sandra Sloan Manager, Design Integration and Licensing B&W Company Ross Frazer President Brazos Land & Subsea, LLC Russell Stachowski Chief Consulting Engineer GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy / Global Nuclear Fuel Dr. Richard Griffith Senior Manager, Systems for National Security Sandia National Laboratories Matt Sunseri President and CEO Zeus Enterprises, LLC Dr. Jess Gehin Director Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors Dr. Rube Williams CEO Jet Learning Laboratory Dr. J. Wesley Hines Department Head, Nuclear Engineering University of Tennessee Richard Wolters Nuclear Engineer General Electric Company, Retired Timothy Hurst President Hurst Technologies Corporation



Marvin Adams

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ph.D., University of Michigan

Sallie and Don Davis ‘61 Professor · Department Head

HTRI Professor of Nuclear Engineering Director, Institute of National Security Education and Research

Computational and experimental thermal hydraulics, reactor safety, fluid mechanics, twophase flow, turbulence and laser velocimetry, imaging techniques.

Computational transport theory, efficient algorithms for massively parallel scientific and engineering calculations, quantification of uncertainties in predictive science & engineering.

Mark Kimber

Karim Ahmed

Ph.D., Purdue University

Ph.D., Purdue University Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Modeling and simulations of irradiation effects in nuclear materials, Multi-scale modeling of materials, co-evolution of microstructure and physical properties of materials under extreme conditions.

Experimental and computational thermal hydraulics, uncertainty quantification in isothermal and non-isothermal turbulent flows and two phase heat transport.

Gamal Akabani

Karen Vierow Kirkland

Ph.D., Texas A&M University

Ph.D., University of Tokyo Associate Professor

Associate Professor · Associate Department Head

Medical sciences, biomedical engineering, nuclear medicine imaging, nuclear oncology, radiation, Monte Carlo transport, radiation oncology, radiotherapy physics, radiobiology, PK/PD and PBPK modeling, basic immunology and radiopharmaceutical research.

Thermal hydraulics, multiphase flow, particularly condensation heat transfer, reactor safety, severe accident analysis and reactor design.

Sunil Chirayath

Ph.D., University of Madras, India

Cable Kurwitz

Ph.D., Texas A&M University

Research Associate Professor Director, Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute

Senior Lecturer Reduced gravity thermal management, modeling of high dimensional data, data classification, and model validation and nuclear power systems.

Monte Carlo transport methods in reactor physics and radiation shielding, Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) core physics simulations, safeguards approaches and analysis for FBR fuel cycles.

Craig Marianno John Ford

Ph.D., University of Tennessee Associate Professor · Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Coordinator Response of intact tissues to ionizing radiation, microbeam utilization in determining how the response of individual cells in a tissue are modified by neighboring unirradiated cells.

Ph.D., Oregon State University Assistant Professor Nuclear counter terrorism, nuclear instrumentation development, exercise development, radiological consequence management and environmental health physics.





Sean McDeavitt

Kenneth Peddicord

Ph.D., Purdue University

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Associate Professor · Director, Nuclear Science Center

Professor · Director, Nuclear Power Institute

Nuclear materials science, nuclear fuel behavior and processing, materials processing in the nuclear fuel cycle and high temperature materials science.

Nuclear fuels, reactor systems and design, fissile materials disposition, MOX fuels, generation IV nuclear power systems, nuclear generated hydrogen, hydrogen economy and nuclear workforce.

Warren “Pete” Miller Ph.D., Northwestern University

Jean Ragusa

Ph.D., Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble

TEES Distinguished Research Professor

Associate Professor Associate Director, Institute for Scientific Computation

Analysis of policy options for the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel, nuclear fuel recycle, breeding plutonium and elimination of transuranics.

Jim Morel

Ph.D., University of New Mexico

Richard Schultz

Ph.D., Idaho State University

Professor · Director, Center for Large-Scale Scientific Simulations

Professor of Practice

Monte Carlo methods and hybrid deterministic/ Monte Carlo methods, discretization and solution techniques for multiphysics/multiscale calculations.

Design, scaling, specification, and conduct of thermal-hydraulic experiments, verification and validation of advanced thermal-hydraulic engineering numerical models.

Lin Shao

Thien Nguyen

Ph.D., University of Houston

Ph.D., Ritsumeikan University Research Assistant Professor

Professor · Undergraduate Program Adviser

Computational and experimental fluid dynamics, thermal hydraulics, optical measurement techniques, wall-bounded turbulent flows (plane jets, impinging jets), turbulent flows in rotating systems: rotor-sator, rotating cylinder, reactor cavity cooling system (RCCS), fuel bundles and subcooled boiling channel.

Materials science and nanotechnology, radiation effects in nuclear and electronic materials, and ion beam analysis.

Natela Ostrovskaya Ph.D., Texas A&M University


Numerical methods for multiphysics simulations, computational techniques for neutral particle and electron transport, nuclear fuel assembly and reactor design.

Pavel Tsvetkov

Ph.D., Texas A&M University

Senior Lecturer

Associate Professor · Faculty Graduate Program Adviser

Mathematical and computer modeling of radiation response of human tissues, and predicting changes occurring in tissues following radiation insult.

System analysis and optimization methods, complex engineered systems, system design, symbiotic nuclear energy systems, waste minimization, sustainability, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) & cogeneration systems, and direct nuclear energy conversion systems.


Galina Tsvetkova

Rodolfo Vaghetto

Ph.D., Texas A&M University

Ph.D.,Texas A&M University Lecturer

Research Assistant Professor

Reactor physics, small nuclear power and cogeneration applications, nuclear data management systems, isotope separations, molecular dynamics and separations phenomena.

Experimental and computational aspects involving high temperature gas-cooled reactors, computational thermal-hydraulics applied to existing light water reactors (LWR) and generation IV reactors.


Theodore (Ted) Parish

Ph.D., Oregon State University

Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin Senior Lecturer Emeritus · TEES Research Professor

Professor Emeritus

Radiation dosimetry, microdosimetry, biological effects of radiation, microbeam lab and food irradiation.

Neutronics, nuclear materials management and neutron transport.

William Marlow

Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin

John Poston

Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology

Professor Emeritus

Professor · Associate Director, Nuclear Power Institute

Physics of molecular clusters and small particle interactions (aerosols), applications in materials, radioactivity and disperse materials, and environmental and health protection.

External and internal dosimetry.

Paul Nelson

Ph.D., University of New Mexico Professor Emeritus · TEES Research Engineer Transport theory, computational methods and management of nuclear materials.


ENGINEERING EDUCATION COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING’S 25 BY 25 INITIATIVE In 2013, Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering embarked on a transformational program called 25 by 25. As a response to the national call for more engineering graduates, and with our engineering advisory board’s strong support of the program, 25 by 25 is designed to increase access for qualified students to pursue engineering education at Texas A&M and increase our total enrollment to 25,000 students by 2025. The 25 by 25 initiative is not just about increasing numbers; we are focusing on enhancing the quality of our students’ educational experience and the excellence of Texas A&M’s engineering program. The 25 by 25 initiative is positively recognized by our academic peers and overwhelmingly supported by our former students and industry. In fact, we have raised more than $250 million in gifts in support of 25 by 25.

Q. How does the College of Engineering plan to grow? A. The majority of future student growth from 25 by 25 will occur through the retention of our incoming students, growth at our branch campus locations and statewide engineering academies, and through the expansion of our online graduate programs. Q. How is the college enhancing education? A. We are improving the educational experience for our students through active learning, smaller class sizes, unique learning experiences and improved first-year engineering classes. We are expanding our learning facilities, including the 525,000 sq. ft. Zachry Engineering Education Complex. We are also growing our faculty. Our college has 578 top faculty scholars and professors of practice. Q. Are you lowering your admission standards? A. No. In fact, the admission standards to the College of Engineering have been enhanced. For students admitted for Fall 2017, the average SAT math score is 709, which is significantly higher than the average math score of 683 in fall 2016. And once students are admitted into Texas A&M, they now undergo a holistic review process to be admitted into the college.

For the latest information about the initiative, please see To get involved and support our program, contact Andy Acker at or 979-458-4493.


A modern, high-tech learning environment for undergraduate engineering education The largest academic building on campus with 525,000 sq. ft. Active learning classrooms Extensive makerspace Interdisciplinary learning labs Informal meeting and study areas Student career center Tutoring and advising center Technology support services Green roof/terrace



Ross Frazer

Matt Sunseri

Distinguished former student Ross Frazer ’77 currently serves as the technical director at HWCG LLC., where he coordinates all technical operations initiatives, requests solutions and manages the execution of corporate projects. He serves as the primary technical and operations interface with regulatory agencies on deepwater well containment.

Distinguished former student Matt Sunseri ‘81 is the president and CEO of Zues Enterprises LLC., and has more than 35 years of experience in nuclear industry. Sunseri currently serves on the department’s advisory council and has experience as a reactor engineering supervisor, plant manager, site vice president and chief nuclear officer. Sunseri also serves on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.

Frazer has more than 30 years of industry experience and serves on the department’s advisory council. He received a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M University and has a history of giving, as he and his wife Carol Frazer ’77 established the Carol Fox Frazer ’77 and Ross Frazer ’77 Scholarship, providing matching funds to create a $25,000 endowment.


Sunseri received a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M University and is passionate about giving back to future Aggie engineers and hopes to provide guidance both to department leadership and its students in his role as a member of the advisory council.


GIVE A GIFT, EMPOWER A FUTURE Education is a gift that keeps giving throughout one’s life, long after college is over. The Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University has graduated more nuclear engineers since the early 1960s than any other school in the country. More important than the number of graduates is the quality of those graduates. We go above and beyond to recognize the potential in students, and provide them with an education to be proud of. We continuously strive to inspire our students, faculty and staff to be the best they can be. We stand by our vision: to develop and maintain a nationally and internationally recognized program that promotes a passion for understanding and to apply the knowledge of nuclear science and engineering to support the nation’s alternative energy, national security and healthcare missions. Our program is constantly evolving and is focused on developing and strengthening every facet required to raise student achievement in and out of college. We aspire to be better and to improve each year. For that we require your support. The search for the best students is tougher than ever. As we continue our tradition of producing high-quality nuclear engineers the industry needs, a key factor is the ability to attract the most academically capable students. Some of the best and brightest high school students cannot afford today’s tuition and scholarships open a world of possibilities to them. For others, a scholarship frees them from student jobs, giving them more time to follow their intellectual curiosity or participate in Texas A&M’s character-building, student-led organizations. There are many opportunities available for empowering the students of the department. Scholarships drive the spirit and guide the minds of generations of Aggies, so they can affect the world in productive and inventive ways. When you fund a scholarship, you’re making a profound difference for individual students and the lives those students touch as graduates of Texas A&M. Contact Megan Pulliam, assistant director of development, to make a difference in a student’s life.

Megan Pulliam Assistant Director of Development work: 979.458.3136 • cell: 210.771.5347




TAMUNUEN 17_2260

2017 Annual Report - Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University  

The 2017 annual report for the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University.