New CAMPEP Accreditation of Graduate Program in Medical Physics

New CAMPEP Accreditation of Graduate Program in Medical Physics

August 22, 2023

Our Nuclear Engineering graduate program has recently received the CAMPEP accreditation for medical physics. The new track within the doctoral program – implemented jointly with the Department of Radiation Oncology at UC San Francisco – allows our student to obtain a certification to enroll in medical physics residency programs in the U.S. and to pursue a career in medical physics. This new track - as the only CAMPEP accredited track at UC Berkeley - offers exciting professional opportunities in an ever more important field in the U.S. and around the world. More information can be found here.

UCBNE Graduate Students Send Equipment and Expertise to Ransacked Chernobyl

UCBNE Graduate Students Send Equipment and Expertise to Ransacked Chernobyl

September 14th, 2022

3D visualization of the residual radiation in the town of Pripyat. (Reconstruction by Kalie Knecht, UCBNE graduate student )
3D visualization of the residual radiation in the town of Pripyat. (Reconstruction by Kalie Knecht, UCBNE graduate student )

A recent article published in BerkeleyNews describes the contribution of UCBNE graduate students Jake Hecla, Michael Bondin, and others to the relief efforts at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, including refurbishing and sending critical equipment. UCBNE work at Chernoybl dates back many years and includes the use of technology to visualize radiation levels and contamination.

Further coverage can be found here.

Hi Vo, our former grad student and NSSC fellow awarded a LANL directors funded post doc.

Hi Vo, our former grad student and NSSC fellow awarded a LANL directors funded post doc.

February 11th, 2022

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Across all divisions, the LANL postdocs went through a competitive process in order to be selected for the fellowship based on previous research merit and the strength of the postdoc research proposal.
Director Postdoc fellowship provides full, 2/3, 1/3 funding for each subsequent year to support Hi Vo's research proposal.
Hi Vo's Director funded research proposal is on the exploration of unit and collective plastic deformation processes using in situ 4DSTEM mechanical testing and 3D-EBSD.

Congratulations Hi Vo! What a wonderful achievement!

UCBNE students attend the 2021 Washington Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation (NESD)

UCBNE students join the 2021 Washington Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation

October 8th, 2021

The whole Washington Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation (NESD)
The whole Washington Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation (NESD)

Sarah Stevenson (4th year Ph.D. student), Malachi Nelson (2nd year Ph.D. student) and Laura Shi (senior undergraduate) represented UCB NE at the 2021 Washington Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation (NESD) from September 26th through October 1st.

The Washington NESD is an independently organized program with the goal of allowing students studying nuclear science and engineering to acquire hands-on experience with the political process to learn how they can make a positive impact on the future of nuclear energy, policy, education, and research. This year’s delegation was composed of 17 students from 12 universities with the largest representation from UC Berkeley.

The delegation met with representatives from key institutions such as the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the American Nuclear Society, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, ClearPath, and ThirdWay. Members of the delegation also met with their local representatives, including Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th District) to discuss the importance of investing in the future of nuclear education and energy in the Bay Area.

This experience gave delegates the opportunity to gain new perspectives on insights on the US policy-making process. The delegation also worked together to create a policy memo that conveyed the student’s views on nuclear energy, education, and research and advocated for the passage of active legislation. To read the policy memo and learn more about the delegation, please visit

NE Graduate Austin Lo featured in the Titans of Nuclear Podcast

NE Graduate Austin Lo featured in the Titans of Nuclear Podcast

August 23, 2021

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Austin Lo was featured in the latest episode of the Titans of Nuclear podcast. After completing his Ph.D. candidacy at UCBNE in 2020, Austin joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a postdoctoral Researcher. Now he joins hundreds of noteworthy experts and professionals in the field to grace the podcast with their expertise, including two of our Professors, Rachel Slaybaugh and Per Peterson (both featured back in 2018).
In episode 329, Austin discusses his dissertation, space nuclear power, the evolution of R&D, and expanding nuclear innovation. Listen, Watch, and/or View show notes here.


Titans of Nuclear is an audio encyclopedia of interviews with the greatest minds in Nuclear Energy. The show has been airing since 2018 and was started by Bret Kugelmass, a Stanford MS mechanical engineer, robotics entrepreneur, and climate change thought leader. Bret identified a severe disconnect between nuclear and tech adjacent communities as impediments to innovation, financing, and social acceptance. He has built the podcast in order to help educate around the nuances of the world's most vital clean energy source. He is joined by co-hosts Jadwiga Najder, a Polish nuclear engineer and advocate, and Olubunmi Olajida, a Nigerian energy policy analyst. Titans of Nuclear is enjoyed by over 50,000 subscribers across 147 counties (and counting). If you'd like to recommend a guest or to give us feedback, you can do so here. And if you want to help others find us as well, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.

Tennessee Governor Lee and Commissioner Rolfe Announce Kairos Power to Establish Low-Power Demonstration Reactor ‘HERMES’ in Oak Ridge

Tennessee Governor Lee and Commissioner Rolfe Announce Kairos Power to Establish Low-Power Demonstration Reactor 'HERMES' in Oak Ridge

July 17th, 2021


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – July 16, 2021 – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Kairos Power officials announced today that the privately funded, advanced nuclear engineering company will establish a low-power demonstration reactor in Oak Ridge.
- Tennessee's Department of Economic & Community Development Newspiece

This completes the acquisition of the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) site, initially selected for the project back in December 2020. At the same time, Kairos also received $303 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and Office of Nuclear Energy’s program for Risk Reduction projects to support the design, licensing, and construction of the reactor.

Kairos Power will invest $100 million and create 55 jobs to deploy a low-power demonstration reactor, called HERMES, at the site in Tennessee.

“Oak Ridge continues to lead the nation in groundbreaking technology, and we recognize Kairos Power for joining this effort. I’m proud of the energy development happening in Tennessee that will positively impact the U.S. and the world. We thank Kairos Power for choosing to develop their test reactor here in Tennessee to support their mission of developing innovative nuclear technology that will move the U.S. forward.” – Gov. Bill Lee

HERMES, expected to be operational in 2026, will demonstrate the company’s capability to deliver low-cost nuclear heat. It is a scaled version of Kairos Power’s Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR), an advanced reactor technology that aims to be cost-competitive with natural gas in the U.S. electricity market in order to provide carbon-free, affordable, and safe energy. The project will be a redevelopment of a site at the Heritage Center, a former U.S. Department of Energy site complex.

“The Oak Ridge Corridor is at the forefront of science and technology in the U.S. and this partnership with Kairos Power is a huge accomplishment for Tennessee and the nuclear energy world. The combination of resources working to deliver innovative nuclear energy is fueled by our strong science and energy sector and the excellent work being done daily at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, led by Dr. Zacharia. I congratulate Kairos Power on this groundbreaking project.” – TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe

"The City of Oak Ridge has a long and distinguished history of nuclear innovation. The citizens of Oak Ridge look forward to welcoming Kairos Power into to our community and working with this exciting innovative project to ensure their long-term success."  Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson

Christopher Reis’ poster wins 2nd Place at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium

Christopher Reis' poster wins 2nd Place at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium

April 27, 2021


First-year graduate student Christopher Reis has won second place for his poster entitled Investigating the limits of high-temperature superconductors for high radiation environments with the US-Japan HEP collaboration, at the US-Japan Hawaii Symposium of the US-Japan Science and Technology Cooperation Program

His poster features work on radiation damage on superconductors.
Congratulations Chris!! Well done!!

The abstract for his marvelous paper here:
Nb-based low-temperature superconductors have underpinned the successes of particle accelerator technology over the last few decades. High-temperature superconductors (HTS) open a wider application space, enabling new capabilities for High Energy Physics, High-Field Magnetic Fusion, NMR, neutron, and X-ray scattering. With complimentary goals, expertise, and tools, our team is improving the technological readiness of these novel materials. This collaboration is centered around two main tasks: Investigating HTS technologies for high-radiation environments and measuring/modeling AC loss and field quality of HTS accelerator magnets. The insulation studies implicit to the first task have yielded a simple and scalable method to remove delamination damage of HTS REBCO tapes and seen the irradiation of new epoxies to 20 Mgy. From task one we have also shown that irradiation of these tapes above 1.80E22 n/m2 completely destroys superconductivity. For task two, the team has been employing both experimental tests and modeling to understand the practical limits of REBCO coated conductors due to a quench and methods of alleviation, and field quality of canted-cosine-theta magnets made from a round REBCO cable

ANS Magazine Radwaste Solutions features Lorenzo Vergari’s work

ANS Magazine 'Radwaste Solutions' features Lorenzo Vergari's work

March 10, 2021

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UCBNE PhD student Lorenzo Vergari's work is featured in the Spring 2021 Issue of the ANS Magazine 'Radwaste Solutions.' Entitled "Packaging TRISO," the article was based on Vergari's presentation of the same topic at the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting on November 16-19, 2020. He discusses storage and transportation strategies for used Fluoride Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor fuel and identifies the next steps in the investigation before the suggestions can be put into effect.

ANS members can check this article out here. Starting on Page 68

Keep up the Excellent work Lorenzo!

UCBNE Researchers and the search for Dark Matter

UCBNE Researchers and the search for Dark Matter

February 12, 2021


UCBNE Professor Karl van Bibber and his group of researchers were featured on campus news for their recent publication in Nature introducing a new experiment to harness the "weirdness of quantum mechanics to accelerate the search for the axion, one of two leading hypothetical subatomic particles that may make up the bulk of dark matter in the universe."

This new technique, called quantum squeezing, allowed the HAYSTAC detector to search for axions at twice the speed as before. “The HAYSTAC detector was already essentially at the quantum limit, and now we’ve actually found a way of circumventing the quantum limit entirely,” said co-author Karl van Bibber, executive associate dean at Berkeley’s College of Engineering and one of the senior researchers on the HAYSTAC project. “Several theoretical works are now predicting that the axion mass is right in the frequency range where HAYSTAC is ready to go next. And we’ve got the cavities and amplifiers all lined up and ready to search.”

Read more in the glowing Berkeley News Article

Great work and congratulations to the research team, Very exciting developments!

Berkeley Team take first-ever measurements of Einsteinium

Berkeley Team take first-ever measurements of Einsteinium

February 5th, 2021

Leticia Arnedo -Sanchez (from left), Katherine Shield, Korey Carter, Jennifer Wacker at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 in Berkeley, Calif. 11/17/20

Researchers in Rebecca Abergel's lab obtained a small sample of einsteinium, a highly radioactive and difficult-to-obtain element, and made the first ever measurement of its bond distance. The study was published in Nature.

“Structural and Spectroscopic Characterization of an Einsteinium Complex,” has been published in Nature; A study co-led by Berkeley Lab scientist and UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering (UCBNE) Assistant Professor Rebecca Abergel, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LLNL) scientist Stosh Kozimor, and a team of scientists: study co-authors Korey Carter, Katherine Shield (current UCBNE Grad student), Kurt Smith, Leticia Arnedo-Sanchez, Tracy Mattox, Liane Moreau, and Corwin Booth of Berkeley Lab; Zachary Jones and Stosh Kozimor of Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Jennifer Wacker and Karah Knope of Georgetown University—several of whom are graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science. Luminescence spectroscopy experiments were conducted at the Molecular Foundry at Berkeley Lab, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. With experimental facilities not available in 1952, when Einsteinium was discovered, the team measured the first-ever Einsteinium bond distance and with less than 250 nanograms of the element!

“There’s not much known about einsteinium,” said Abergel, who leads Berkeley Lab’s Heavy Element Chemistry group. “It’s a remarkable achievement that we were able to work with this small amount of material and do inorganic chemistry. It’s significant because the more we understand about its chemical behavior, the more we can apply this understanding for the development of new materials or new technologies, not necessarily just with einsteinium, but with the rest of the actinides too. And we can establish trends in the periodic table.”

Read more on their challenges and findings in this LBL news piece

Congratulations Professor Abergel and Kathy Shield! —from your UCBNE family.

More News coverage:


Chemistry world