• Anna Nikiforova in the neutron detector lab at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

    Photo: Jacqueline Mcbride

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Four from MIT are Stewardship Science Graduate fellows

Graduate students take practicum at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering graduate student Evan Davis is the most-recient recipient of the prestigious Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship (SSGF), which are also currently held by three other MIT students: Krystle Catalli, Anna Nikiforova and Alex Zylstra.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the goal of this four-year program is to provide support and opportunities for PhD candidates in fields of study that are of interest to stewardship science. These include areas such as high-energy density physics, low-energy nuclear science or properties of materials under extreme conditions.

Each fellow spends a summer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, completing a required "practicum," which allows fellows to work on assignments that are outside the main focus of their doctoral thesis work.

This summer, Nikiforova, of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, worked in the Advanced Detectors Group of the Physics Division. Her project involved exploring the applicability of water-based Cherenkov detectors to signature high-energy gamma and neutron radiation from photofission of special nuclear materials.

“I found the SSGF program particularly attractive because of an opportunity to spend a summer at a national lab," she said. "I think that the best part of being here has been to work on projects that are challenging and exciting with people who share my passion for nuclear science. LLNL is definitely a collaborative, never-boring environment.”

Catalli, of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, is in the fourth year of the program and completed her practicum in 2008; Zylstra, of the Department of Physics, is in the second year of the program and has yet to complete his practicum.

This story includes information from an article that first appeared in LLNL's Newsline
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Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Graduate, postdoctoral, Nuclear science and engineering, Students, Earth and atmospheric sciences, Physics

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