The American Nuclear Society annually recognizes promising young researchers and concepts, and this year, five of them represent Boise State. Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering students Sarah Cole, Kyle Holloway, Addie Lupercio, Kaelee Novich and Timothy Phero are recipients of prestigious American Nuclear Society awards that will empower their research and education to new levels. Many of these students conduct research not only at Boise State, but also in collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Each of these students have also received mentorship and research support from Brian Jaques, an assistant professor and the Nuclear Energy Focus Lead at Boise State for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies.
Meet the Awardees
Boise-born materials science student Sarah Cole is the recipient of the Sophomore Undergraduate Scholarship of $2,000, which will help fund her education as she pursues her research interests. Cole works on fabricating and characterizing specialized nuclear fuels to increase accident tolerance.
“The global impact of this research is the ability to implement advanced technology fuels in nuclear reactors throughout the world for safer nuclear reactor systems in normal operation, transient conditions, or accident scenarios,” Cole said.
To attend Boise State, Cole also received scholarship and fellowship financial support through five awards, including the University Nuclear Leadership Program Scholarship, the Idaho Governor’s Cup Scholarship, the David and Beverly Taylor Service Scholarship, the Boise State Presidential Scholarship and the Taco Bell Live Mas Scholarship.
Materials science and engineering junior Kyle Holloway is the recipient of the John and Muriel Landis Scholarship of $5,000. Holloway was born in Olympia, WA but calls Twin Falls home. This scholarship will enable Holloway to continue living in Boise while pursuing his education.
Holloway researches the materials characterization of additively manufactured (3D printed) materials for nuclear reactor applications.
“I am doing materials characterization for the Transformative Challenge Reactor program,” Holloway explained. The goal of the program is to leverage advances in manufacturing, materials and computation to enable adoption of technologies to facilitate delivery of reliable, low-cost clean nuclear energy for the United States. “It is a conceptual design that involves additively manufacturing most of the parts. If successful, this reactor would impact both the nuclear energy sector and additively manufactured goods. Additionally, manufactured parts can reduce both the time and the cost of building a reactor site.”
Holloway also received financial support through the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship, the McNair Scholarship, and the Norm and Gladys Dahm Scholarship for Engineering.
Addie Lupercio is the recipient of the Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division John Randall Scholarship of $5,000, which will enable Lupercio to conduct a six month internship at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN.
At this internship, Lupercio will be working in the Nuclear Fuel Development Section. Her research is focused on the mechanical and thermophysical properties of Advanced Technology Fuels for the advancement of nuclear energy.
“We have been using the same uranium dioxide nuclear fuels in the U.S. Light Water Reactor fleet since the 60’s. We are finally making rapid advancements in not only reactor design but fuel compositions and material systems. I am excited to be a part of helping to propel the progression of these advanced nuclear enabling technologies.”
Since 2017, Lupercio was also awarded the University Nuclear Leadership Program undergraduate scholarship, and the same program’s fellowship two years later.
Kaelee Novich received the Graduate Scholarship of $3,000, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in materials science and engineering with a graduate certificate in applied public administration. Novich’s research goal is to improve the safety system in nuclear reactors, and in doing so, “meet clean energy policies and to make the Earth healthier for future generations. Climate change impacts all of us and nuclear energy is one of the necessary solutions to combat it.”
“There are currently only a limited number of commercially available systems that provide nuclear operators with real-time monitoring of nuclear reactor components,” Novich said. “Now the sensors and devices that are being used to measure changes in mechanical properties of nuclear materials require direct contact. My research is unique because it offers a non-contact alternative to measure the deformation of such materials in real time.”
Since 2016, Novich has earned 13 different financial awards to fund her education, such as the American Nuclear Society Michael J. Lineberry Graduate Scholarship, the Department of Energy Nuclear Energy University Program Fellowship, the Jeker Family Trust Fund Full-Ride Private Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Scholarship, the Boise State Dean’s Scholarship and many others.
Fourth-year doctoral student Timothy Phero was awarded the Graduate Scholarship of $3,000. With this award, Boise resident Phero can advance his research in printing electronic devices that can help improve nuclear energy technologies.
“I am most excited about my work because we are at the forefront of this work and one of the growing leaders in the direct-write, additive manufacturing space here at Boise State University,” Phero said. “In addition, we are using this new technology to advance our understanding of nuclear energy, a clean, carbon-free energy source.”
“Not long ago, not many of us knew what 3D printing was or how it worked. Now, almost every library and elementary school has the capability to print almost anything imaginable with plastic with a few clicks of a button. 3D printing has expanded to not only printing with metals to allow us to print large structures or small nuclear fuels, but now even electronic devices down to the micro-level scale.”
Phero was awarded Boise State University’s top ten scholar in 2018 and awarded the Idaho National Laboratory Graduate Fellowship.