New nuclear engineering faculty aims to expand student research, collaboration


By Tessa M. Woodring

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Saya Lee, former associate research engineer at Texas A&M University, will join the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering in the Penn State College of Engineering as an assistant professor on Aug. 17.

“Dr. Lee has world-class expertise in state-of-the-art flow visualization and diagnostic techniques, including particle image velocimetry, laser induced fluorescence and tomography,” said Jean Paul Allain, head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering. “Dr. Lee will bring expertise in thermal-hydraulics (TH) advanced multi-dimensional instrumentation. [This expertise] will provide significant validation strategies with TH codes developed in our department and future computational multi-physics expertise in nuclear engineering at Penn State.”

Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering and his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea. He received his doctoral degree in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M University in 2014.

Lee spent two years at Texas A&M working on his postdoctoral research that focused on nuclear reactor thermal-hydraulics before becoming an associate research engineer in 2018.

Currently, Lee continues to focus his research on nuclear thermal-fluid applications in the design and development of advanced reactors. He also provides support in other thermal-hydraulic research topics such as the safety and operability of light-water reactors — a type of thermal-neutron reactor that uses water as its coolant and neutron moderator.

“The Penn State nuclear engineering program has a long and great history,” Lee said. “I believe that I have a great chance to contribute to the growth of the nuclear engineering department, while also being supported by strong research capabilities — including Penn State’s Breazeale Nuclear Reactor.”

Lee looks forward to continuing his research at Penn State and using his experience to further advance the research environment for his students.

“My goal is to establish a strong experimental research environment, which can cover small-scale applications — including micro and nano — to large-scale applications in nuclear power plants,” Lee said. “I want my students at Penn State to experience fundamental theories as well as realistic engineering design and problem-solving capabilities in nuclear thermal-hydraulics.”

With a multidisciplinary educational background, Lee hopes to further expand collaboration across the College of Engineering, with both faculty and students.

“The Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering has faculty members from diverse engineering and science fields,” Lee said. “A close and strong collaboration is essential to resolve nuclear engineering issues, which consist of multidisciplinary complex problems. Through the collaboration, I am looking forward to learning more and making great strides toward creating a better educational environment for our students.”


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Megan Lakatos

saya lee headshot

Saya Lee, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at Penn State. IMAGE: PROVIDED