Nuclear engineering doctoral student receives graduate fellowship


By Gabrielle Stewart

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jonathan Balog, a nuclear engineering doctoral student, was selected by the South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SCUREF) to receive the Rickover Fellowship.

Designed to serve the Department of Energy Naval Reactors Program by supporting the training of science and engineering personnel contributing to naval propulsion-related research, the award is given to a small number of recipients each year. Beginning in the fall, Balog will receive a monthly stipend of $3,200 supplemented by an additional prorated $750 per month during a practicum.

“I’m extremely grateful and humbled to be named a Rickover Fellow because the fellowship is highly selective,” Balog said. “This is also, in a way, an award for my mother. She never went to college, but definitely had the potential to excel at any college or university; now all three of her children will have or be pursuing doctorates. My father also deserves a fair amount of credit through his work as a civil engineer. Talking with him about his job formed the cornerstone of my interest in engineering. Without those experiences, I have no idea who or where I would be.”

Balog, who earned bachelor’s degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering from Penn State in 2019, primarily investigates the effects of stress on the formation and dissolution of hydrogen-containing compounds in fuel rod cladding materials for nuclear reactors. These compounds can affect the safety and performance of fuel rods during operation and waste storage.

Prior to starting his graduate studies, and while attending Penn State as an undergraduate student, Balog worked as a technical intern in multiple locations for the Naval Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). NNL supports the Navy, SCUREF, and other organizations through career and research programs. He also worked at Westinghouse Electric Corp. in Cranberry Township as a technical intern.

“Being awarded this fellowship speaks highly of the nuclear engineering department as a whole,” said Balog, who is advised by Arthur Motta, professor and graduate program chair of nuclear engineering. “It’s been extremely exciting to be part of the vanguard of the new nuclear engineering department and contribute to it becoming a top-ranked program in the country.”


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College of Engineering Media Relations

a man wearing a cap and gown poses on a foot bridge in a garden

Jonathan Balog was selected to receive a 2021 Rickover Fellowship. IMAGE: PROVIDED BY JONATHAN BALOG