Penn State students recognized at American Nuclear Society Student Conference

May 10, 2023

By Mariah R. Lucas

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State nuclear engineering students took home four best presentation and poster awards from the American Nuclear Society Student Conference at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in April.

Two teams of nuclear engineering undergraduates, who all graduated this month, were recognized for their senior capstone projects.

Matthew Denelsbeck, James Caswell, John Barton and Tyler Locher won the Best Undergraduate Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion Presentation award for their project, Centrifugal Nuclear Thermal Rocket Geometry Optimization.

Vitaliy Mykhnyak, Andrew Broesder and Devin Ortiz won the Best Undergraduate Nuclear Criticality Safety Presentation award for their project, Burnable Poison Loading Optimization.

Carolina da Silva Bourdot Dutra, a doctoral student in nuclear engineering, won the Best Graduate Thermal Hydraulics Presentation award for her paper, "High Fidelity Modeling to Inform Safety Analysis Codes for Heat Pipe Microreactors.” Da Silva Bourdot Dutra authored the conference paper along with her adviser, Elia Merzari, Penn State associate professor of nuclear engineering. They published a version of the paper in the journal Nuclear Technology.

Branko Kovacevic and Andre Vidal Soares, doctoral students in nuclear engineering, received the Best Graduate Nonproliferation, Security and Safeguards Presentation award for their paper, “Material Diversion Signatures for Molten Salt Reactors.” Kovacevic and Vidal Soares collaborated with Azaree Lintereur, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering; Amanda Johnsen, assistant professor of nuclear engineering; and William J. Walters, associate professor of nuclear engineering, as well as researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The students presented an overview of the research at the conference, and plan to publish it in an upcoming journal article.


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