EarthTalks: Head of nuclear engineering looks to stars for clean energy


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The National Academy of Engineering identified the harnessing of energy from nuclear fusion, the same process that powers the sun, as one of the grand challenges of this century. Jean Paul Allain, professor of nuclear engineering and head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State, will discuss the recent progress made in nuclear fusion, emerging technologies and the remaining challenges to realizing energy generation from a star here on Earth at a talk at 4 p.m. Monday, April 12. The seminar, which is free and open to the public, will be broadcast via Zoom.

Allain works in the areas of surface science and plasma-material interactions with applications in nuclear fusion, plasma medicine and advanced nanomaterials. He has published 156 peer-reviewed articles and eight book chapters and holds seven patents. Allain has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Argonne National Laboratory’s Distinguished Award from 2003 to 2006, a Fulbright Scholar Award in 2015 and the 2018 American Nuclear Society Fusion Energy Division Technology Accomplishment Award. He was elevated to senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2019 and received the Huck Endowed Chair in Plasma Medicine in 2019. Prior to joining Penn State, he was professor and associate head of graduate programs in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) from 2013 to 2019 and was assistant and associate professor in nuclear engineering at Purdue University from 2007 to 2013. He was also a staff scientist at Argonne National Laboratory from 2003 to 2007. Allain received his master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering from UIUC and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Allain’s talk is part of the spring 2021 EarthTalks series, “Energy and climate policy: How to avoid a global hothouse.” The series focuses on policies and technology that could help slow down global warming and addresses topics such as carbon taxes, renewable energy subsidies and the feasibility of carbon sequestration. For more information about the spring 2021 series, visit the EarthTalks website.


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