nuclear engineering graduate students awarded ANS academic scholarships


Nuclear engineering graduate students Ryan Kelly and Richard Vega have received scholarships from the American Nuclear Society for the 2015-2016 academic year. Kelly is the recipient of a general graduate scholarship and Vega is the recipient of the Alan F. Henry/ Paul A. Greebler Memorial Scholarship that is targeted toward students pursuing graduate studies in the field of reactor physics. Both scholarships are valued at $3,000.

To be considered for a scholarship graduate students in the nuclear engineering community fill out a general application form that is reviewed by the scholarship committee.

“School is expensive and every bit of money helps, that’s why these scholarships are so important,” Vega said. “Nowadays it’s not uncommon to have a child and family in grad school and I think a lot of people are further along in their lives at earlier points. A lot more people are starting their families earlier while doing grad school.”

Vega’s graduate work revolves around computational transport acceleration and is focused on researching methods that better enable graphics processing units (GPUs) to introduce more concurrency, allowing multiple data type algorithms that don’t require as much “talking” back and forth as current processors do. Vega is currently working an internship for Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, doing neutron spectrum unfolding and adjustment.

Kelly’s focus shifted between his master’s degree and his doctorate, he is now working on the development of genetic algorithms to help design nuclear reactors.

“My goal is to bring it to the next step where we can actually start automating at least part of the design of nuclear reactors,” said Kelly. “This is interesting because we are not just reproducing old designs, we are coming up with non-standard solutions for things we can’t figure out analytically.”

Kelly plans to graduate next spring and has a two-year work commitment at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Nikayuna, New York.

 “I’m self supporting at this point,” Kelly said. “The graduate scholarships are the way I can focus on my research and get my research done without holding down a full-time job to cover the expenses. I am also covered through fellowships, but my graduate scholarships have been a big help.”