UNT student Jeffrey Hetherly was awarded one of only nine two-year graduate fellowships from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative.
Hetherly competed against more than 100 top students in science and engineering fields from universities across the nation, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley. He is this year's only recipient from a Texas university. Hetherly is the son of Kenneth and Yvonne Damon from Rowlett.
The fellowship awards Hetherly with up to $45,000 in benefits that include a monthly stipend, tuition, approved travel, books and supplies. The funds will allow him to study how the exposure of materials to radiation causes materials to deform, information that will support the design of future nuclear reactors.
"An increasing number of developing countries are looking to nuclear power as a means of supplying energy," Hetherly says. "Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that these nuclear power plants have less of an impact on the environment. Hence, the ultimate goal of this AFCI program is to make nuclear fuels more efficient and the waste they produce less harmful."
He adds that he will be modeling the effect of radiation on the new materials scientists are considering using in newer, more efficient nuclear reactors.
Using computer models and simulations to study the effects on materials exposed to radiation, his research will help predict the life span of materials used in nuclear reactors.
The research funded by the fellowship will be carried out in collaboration with researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The national laboratories, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, are two separate research institutions designed to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation's nuclear technology as a means of deterring nuclear attacks on the United States.
Hetherly also will conduct his research at Discovery Park, UNT's nearly 290-acre research facility that was formerly known as Research Park. Discovery Park is a research center designed to promote interactive and multidisciplinary research, education and training that benefits students, faculty and the community. He will be mentored by Srinivasan Srivilliputhur, assistant professor for UNT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Duncan Weathers, associate professor for UNT's Department of Physics.
"This fellowship relieves me of most of my financial worries and allows me to focus solely on doing research," Hetherly says. "It also connects me to national laboratories which will give me real-world experience for a career in a scientific field."
Hetherly received his bachelor's degree in physics from UNT in May 2008, magna cum laude. He will continue his education at UNT this fall to pursue his master of science in physics, simultaneously with his doctor of philosophy in materials science and engineering.
He will join the other eight recipients this summer for an orientation into the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative.
Established in 2001, the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative Global Nuclear Energy Partnership University Fellowship Program is designed to support university students and university programs that will help strengthen the development of nuclear-related fields.
The Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative is a focused research and development program designed to support the growth of nuclear power and enable energy independence in the United States. This is done by developing and demonstrating technologies that enable transition to a stable, long term, environmentally, economically and politically acceptable advanced fuel cycle. This approach will allow the United States to separate used nuclear fuel into waste and usable components, allowing reactors to extract additional energy and providing options for recycling and more effective management of the residual waste.
The Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative is part of an integrated strategy of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy and is the domestic research and development component of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.
UNT News Service press release
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