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Grad student Kaelee Novich wins award for nuclear waste storage research

Kaelee Novich

First-year materials science and engineering doctoral student Kaelee Novich has been awarded a 2020 Innovations in Nuclear Technology Research and Development Award.

This prestigious award from the Office of Nuclear Technology Research and Development within the U.S. Department of Energy is designed to facilitate innovation and support disciplines related to nuclear technology. Novich’s award-winning research dealt with dry-cask storage of nuclear waste.

The Nampa native said that she “always loved the sense of community at Boise State and the relationships our school has made with other organizations, like Idaho National Laboratory.”

Interview with Novich

Q: What is your research about?

“This award is in regards to the research I conducted during my undergraduate studies, where I focused on developing a casting technique to effectively mix boron carbide powder with molten aluminum to produce a borated aluminum composite. Borated aluminum can be used to fabricate dry cask storage, an alternative to alleviating nuclear waste containment. This is important since traditional methods of storing used nuclear fuel rods in pools are close to reaching capacity in the United States.”

Q: What about this work excites you?

“I enjoyed taking part in this research project because it was my first glimpse into the nuclear energy industry and to research in general. From this project, I was able to get an internship with Idaho National Laboratory in the summer of 2019 and it helped me decide to stay at Boise State University for graduate school. My work for this project even led me to write and submit a first author manuscript to the Journal of Composite Materials.”

“I would especially like to thank my advisor, Dr. Brian Jaques, for not only helping me with my research, but also for the many internship, scholarship/fellowship, manuscript and award applications; Allyssa Bateman, for always making time to proofread my writing; Sam Pedersen, who was my graduate student mentor for this project and someone who I can always come to with questions; Dr. Amy Moll, for helping me start my research career; and of course, everyone else in the Advanced Materials Laboratory!” said Novich.

For more information on the Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards program, visit