Dr. Elda Emma Anderson

2018-03-29 00:00:00 +0000

By Katie Mummah, 03/29/2018

This article originally appeared on the ANS Nuclear Cafe to celebrate women’s history month.

Women’s History Month is a time to reflect back on the contributions of women, and to look forward to their potential. In nuclear science, there is a rich history of female physicists and engineers contributing to our field along with their male counterparts. From the radium to radioimmunoassay to reactors, women have defied the odds to become leaders in all areas of nuclear science and engineering.

While cliché, I truly feel as if I am standing of the shoulders of giants as a young woman in nuclear engineering. The sky is the limit for women in science today, because the women that came before us blazed a path for us to succeed. No longer are we the only woman in the room (well, usually at least), no longer do we have to give up a fulfilling family life to pursue a career in science, and no longer must we continually fight to have our voices heard. With a respect for the past also comes an excitement about the future. There are many incredible women leaders and rising stars across the field of nuclear science and engineering, from industry, national labs, and academia. And someday the leaders of today will be the shoulders for the next generation to stand on.

As a conclusion of Women’s History Month, I highlight Dr. Elda Emma Anderson. You can see the three previous articles honoring this month:

Dr. Elda Emma Anderson was a physicist, member of the Manhattan Project, and pioneer of health physics. She was born in Wisconsin on October 5, 1899.

Dr. Anderson earned a Bachelor of Arts (AB) from Ripon College in 1922, and went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn her Master of Arts in physics, 1924. After completing her masters, she taught in high schools and colleges around Iowa and Wisconsin, including a position as the dean of physics, chemistry and mathematics at Estherville Junior College in Iowa (now part of Iowa Lakes Community College).

Eventually, she joined the physics department at Milwaukee-Downer College and became the department head in 1934. Milwaukee-Downer College was a women’s college that eventually consolidated with Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1964. The land from Milwaukee-Downer is now part of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

While maintaining her job as dean of physics, Dr. Anderson completed her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1941, with the dissertation “Low energy levels in the atomic spectra Co VII and Ni VIII”. Shortly after finishing her Ph.D., she joined the Manhattan Project at Princeton University’s Office of Scientific Research and Development in New Jersey. By 1943, she was moved to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico to study fission. Working in the cyclotron group, Dr. Anderson focused mainly on spectroscopy and neutron cross section measurements. Her work led her to produce the lab’s first sample of uranium-235.

Although she returned to Milwaukee-Downer in 1947, Dr. Anderson was very interested in the new field of health physics. She left Wisconsin in 1949 to move to Oak Ridge, Tennessee and devote the rest of her life to health physics. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, she became the first chief of education and training for the Health Physics Division.

Dr. Anderson was very active in establishing health physics as an official discipline, helping to establish the Health Physics Society in 1955 and the American Board of Health Physics in 1960. Her collaboration with faculty at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee led to the creation of the graduate health physics program. She was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and various honor societies such as Sigma Xi and Sigma Delta Epsilon. She developed international courses in health physics, including ones in Stockholm, Belgium, and Bombay.

In 1956 she was diagnosed with leukemia and eventually breast cancer. Dr. Elda Emma Anderson died in 1961. She never married and had no children.

In honor of her memory, the Health Physics Society established the Elda E. Anderson Award in 1962, which is presented yearly to a young member of the Society to recognize “excellence in (1) research or development, (2) discovery or invention, (3) devotion to health physics, and/or (4) significant contributions to the profession of health physics.”


  1. Anderson, E. E. (1941). Low energy levels in the atomic spectra Co VII and Ni VIII (doctoral dissertation). University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  2. Baes, F. (n.d.). Health Physics Society Awards. Retrieved March 29, 2018, from hps.org/aboutthesociety/people/awardlist.html
  3. Elda Anderson. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2018, from atomicheritage.org/profile/elda-anderson
  4. Elda Anderson. (n.d.). In Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved March 29, 2018, from < a href=”https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-and-education-magazines/anderson-elda”>encyclopedia.com/history/news-and-education-magazines/anderson-elda</a>
  5. Sicherman, B. (1993). Notable American women: The modern period: A biographical dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
  6. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (Ed.). (1999, April 26). Elda Emma Anderson. In britannica.com/biography/Elda-Emma-Anderson. Retrieved March 29, 2018, from Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  7. Yount, L. (2008). A to Z of women in science and math. Retrieved March 29, 2018.

Dr. Rosalyn Sussman Yalow

2018-03-20 00:00:00 +0000

By Katie Mummah, 03/20/2018

This article originally appeared on the ANS Nuclear Cafe to celebrate women’s history month.

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow was a medical physicist and won the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with her partner Solomon Berson for the development of radioimmunoassay (RIA).

Born in 1921 in New York City, Dr. Sussman Yalow became interested in mathematics and chemistry at an early age. She attended Hunter College, which was an all-women’s college at the time (it is now part of the City College of New York). There, she earned a degree in physics, which had been newly created as a major during her senior year. Particularly fascinated with rapidly-evolving field of nuclear physics, and she later noted that in the late 1930s, “physics, and in particular nuclear physics, was the most exciting field in the world. It seemed as if every major experiment brought a Nobel Prize.”

However, Dr. Sussman Yalow wasn’t convinced that she could get into graduate school as a woman. Even her parents recommended that she conclude her academic career and become a teacher. In her last semester she started a part-time secretarial job for Dr. Rudolf Schoenheimer, a biochemist at Columbia, and started business school after graduating in January 1941. Nevertheless, she continued to pursue her dream of a career in physics and applied to graduate school. She received a teaching assistantship in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she would become the only woman in the college of engineering at the time.

As the physics major was only created in her last year at Hunter, Dr. Sussman Yalow’s physics background left her behind many of her first-year graduate student peers. To catch up, she took undergraduate courses for no credit while balancing a full graduate course load and a half-time teaching assistantship. She noted that her A- in optics laboratory (in addition to an A in the lecture portion) prompted the chair of the physics department to tell her “that A- confirms that women do not do well at laboratory work” *

After completing her Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1945, Dr. Sussman Yalow moved to New York with her husband Aaron, who was also a physicist. She worked briefly as an engineer at the Federal Telecommunications Laboratory, and then began teaching physics in a pre-engineering program at her alma mater, Hunter College. Instead of undergraduate women, she taught veterans returning from the WWII. By this time her husband, Aaron Yalow, was working as a medical physicist at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. Through him, she met “The Chief”, Dr. Gioacchino Failla. He recommended to the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital that Dr. Sussman Yalow be hired as a consultant on a new radioisotope service, which she did part-time between December 1947 and May 1950.

After the spring semester of 1950, Dr. Sussman Yalow left Hunter College to work full time at the Bronx VA Hospital. There, she teamed up with physician Dr. Solomon Berson to research new applications of radioisotopes, such as the kinetics of iodine metabolism. Their partnership lasted 22 years, until his death. Together, they invented radioimmunoassay (RIA), an extremely sensitive technique to measure substance concentrations by comparing radiolabeled and unlabeled antigens for specific antibodies. RIA can measure picograms of material in a milliliter of blood, and is used in both hormone and immune research.

For her role in developing RIA, Dr. Sussman Yalow won the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with endocrinologists Roger Guillemin and Andrew V. Schally. Solomon Berson died in 1972, and thus was unable to receive the award along with her. Dr. Sussman Yalow was given the title of Distinguished Service Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, which was affiliated with the Bronx VA Hospital. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and received many honors, such as the William Middleton Award for Excellence in Research (the highest honor of the VA Medical Center), the National Medal of Science in 1988 and five honorary doctorates.

Yalow often mentored young women in science, including Mildred Dresselhaus and Frieda Stahl at Hunter College. She officially retired in 1992 and became Senior Medical Investigator Emerita at the VA Hospital where she had spent most of her career. She died in 2011 at the age of 89 and is survived by her two children, Benjamin and Elanna.


  1. “Radioimmunoassay (RIA).” Medical Discoveries. Retrieved March 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/medical-journals/radioimmunoassay-ria
  2. Taitz, E. (2009). Rosalyn Yalow. In Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.
  3. Almy, G. M. (1973). A Centry of Physics at the University of Illinois 1868-1968. Urbana, IL: Physics Department at the University of Illinois.
  4. Goldsmith, S. J. (1975). Radioimmunoassay: Review of basic principles. Seminars in Nuclear Medicine, 5(2), 125-152. doi:10.1016/s0001-2998(75)80028-6s
  5. Howes, R. H. (2011, October). Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (1921-2011). Forum on Physics and Society.Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (b. 1921). (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/women-scientists/rosalyn-sussman-yalow.html
  6. Yalow, R. S., & Berson, S. A. (1959). Assay of Plasma Insulin in Human Subjects by Immunological Methods. Nature, 184(4699), 1648-1649. doi:10.1038/1841648b0
  7. Yalow, R. (1977). The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1977, Rosalyn Yalow – Biographical. Retrieved from https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1977/yalow-bio.html

* It is unclear exactly when this comment was made to Dr. Sussman Yalow, so it could be attributed to either famed physicist F. Wheeler Loomis, namesake of the University of Illinois physics building (Loomis Lab), or Gerald Kruger, who became acting department head during the war while Dr. Loomis was at the MIT Rad Lab

Dr. Katharine Way

2018-03-01 00:00:00 +0000

By Katie Mummah, 03/01/2018

This article originally appeared on the ANS Nuclear Cafe to celebrate women’s history month.

Happy Women’s History Month! Each week during the month of March, one woman from the history of nuclear science and technology will be featured on the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

As a woman and a nuclear engineer myself, I am honored to have so many female role models to look up to. Many incredible female physicists and engineers blazed the path for me and the women around me to succeed, and we honor their legacy as we begin to build our own.

However, with nuclear engineering comprised of only about 11.5% women, I believe we should also push ourselves to do better and encourage more girls to enter this field. Sharing stories of women in nuclear, including the ones that will be posted on the ANS Nuclear Cafe throughout the month of March, is both a celebration of women’s history and inspiration for the future.

You probably know the story of Marie Curie, but do you know the story of Dr. Katharine “Kay” Way? Born in 1903, Katharine Way was a nuclear physicist who made significant contributions to the Manhattan Project and the field of nuclear data.

Dr. Way received a B.S. in physics from Columbia University in 1932 and earned a Ph.D. from University of North Carolina in 1938 for her dissertation on the Photoelectric cross section of the deuteron [2]. Her 1939 paper on the Liquid-Drop Model and Nuclear Moments noted instability in rapidly spinning cigar-shaped nuclei and came close to theorizing nuclear fission, according to her advisor.

She became an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in 1939. However, war soon broke out and in 1942 she joined the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago and became a part of the Manhattan Project. In Chicago and later at Oak Ridge, her work contributed to reactor design and she developed the Way-Wigner approximation of fission product decay with physicist Eugene Wigner.

After the war, Dr. Way co-edited the book One World or None: A Report to the Public on the Full Meaning of the Atomic Bomb featuring Albert Einstein, Neils Bhor, Arthur Holly Compton, Robert Oppenheimer, and more. It became a New York Times bestseller and focused on the implications of nuclear weapons.

Dr. Way also came up with an idea for the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (now known as Oak Ridge Associated Universities), to increase collaboration and allow for universities in the south to have access to the unique research facilities that Oak Ridge offered.

After the war, she went to work for the National Bureau of Standards in Washington D.C. According to her Ph.D. advisor John Wheeler, she was the “authority on nuclear data, nuclear energies, and probabilities of transformation”. Dr. Way recognized the importance of nuclear data, creating the Nuclear Data Project under the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1953. The Nuclear Data Project eventually lead to the academic journals “Nuclear Data Sheets” and “Atomic Data and Nuclear Data Tables,” both of which still exist today.

Dr. Way returned to North Carolina in 1968 to work at the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory and become an adjunct professor at Duke University. She remained active in editing journals until just before her eightieth birthday.

In her obituary in 1995, it was noted that Dr. Way was also passionate about social justice, including the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the health of older adults in North Carolina.


  1. Teaching Katharine Way at the University of North Carolina[Video file]. (2008). Web of Stories. Retrieved from https://www.webofstories.com/playAll/john.wheeler?sId=9414. Story first recorded in December 1996
  2. Jack, J. (2009). Science on the home front: American women scientists in World War II. Urbana (Ill.): University of Illinois Press.
  3. Landivar, L. (2013, September). Disparities in STEM Employment by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin(Rep. No. ACS-24). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from American Community Survey Reports, U.S. Census Bureau website: https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-24.pdf
  4. Way, K., & Wigner, E. P. (1948). The Rate of Decay of Fission Products. Physical Review,73(11), 1318-1330. doi:10.1103/physrev.73.1318
  5. Way, K. (1937, April 1). Photoelectric cross section of the deuteron (Doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina, 1938). Physical Review Journals,51(7). doi:https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRev.51.552
  6. Way, K. (1939). The Liquid-Drop Model and Nuclear Moments. Physical Review,55(10), 963-965. doi:10.1103/physrev.55.963
  7. Wheeler, J. A., & Ford, K. W. (2000). Geons, black holes, and quantum foam: a life in physics. New York: Norton.


2018-01-22 00:00:00 +0000

By Katie Mummah, 01/22/2018

This article originally appeared on the ANS Nuclear Cafe

Students: we know the value of a couple thousand dollars. Receiving an ANS scholarship could mean the opportunity less shifts at work and focus on classes, buying textbooks, or even just eating a bit better (and healthier) than ramen noodles every day. I’m not here to tell you why you can use some extra money. I’m here to tell you all the other reasons why applying for an ANS scholarship is valuable.

It’s good practice

Regardless if you have more schooling ahead (hello, grad school!) or a job search a few years away, the process of applying for these scholarships is simple and valuable. It forces you to update your resume/CV (which we all need to do more often!) and perhaps more importantly, write about yourself. Most of us don’t have much experience “selling” ourselves, and typically less so in writing. Writing these essays helps you course-correct a little bit (what DO I want to do with my degree?) and prepare for bigger steps like job interviews or fellowship applications.

It recognizes and encourages ANS participation

Although I’ve never reviewed scholarship applications (because I’m still applying for them), I expect that reviewers place a high value on ANS participation. If you’ve been active in your Student Section or in the national ANS organization, it’s a great way to be recognized for your hard work–and encourage you to do more! If you’re just starting out, that’s fine too! You can use your personal statement to highlight how you want to get more involved in the future!

ANS scholarships are also a honor worth recognizing on your resume/CV. Regardless of what you apply for in the future–jobs, fellowships, graduate school, or even other scholarships–having this scholarship on your resume demonstrates that you already stand out in the nuclear community.

There are many specialized scholarships

There are several types of specialized scholarships, each of which I’ll highlight below.

Named scholarships:

Beyond the general undergraduate and graduate scholarships, there are a variety (30+) of named scholarships that highlight specific fields or locations. Are you from Pittsburgh? There’s a scholarship for that! (The Pittsburgh Local Section has both undergrad and grad scholarships). Are you a graduate student studying nuclear criticality safety? There’s a scholarship for that! (Nuclear Criticality Safety Pioneers Scholarship). Check out the ANS website to learn more and apply to both the general scholarships and any named ones you’re eligible for.

Some of these named scholarships come with extra perks, too. For example, the Decommissioning & Environmental Studies Division Scholarship (both undergraduate and graduate categories) also support their awardees to attend the ANS national conferences in June and November.

Two-year college scholarships (due April 1):

Are you studying at a two-year college and interested in nuclear power? Well there are scholarships just for you! The Kent W. Hamlin Memorial Scholarship and NEED Scholarship Award for Community College and Trade School are both awarded to students studying for their associates.

NEED scholarships:

These scholarships are set aside for students with greater than average financial need. The John and Muriel Landis Scholarships are awarded to both undergraduate and graduate students and take into account an individual’s circumstances.

The Delayed Education Scholarship for Women (DEW) is a scholarship specifically for women studying in nuclear engineering related fields whose education has been delayed.

Incoming freshman and incoming sophomore scholarships (due April 1):

High school seniors and current freshmen, never fear! There are ANS scholarships set aside just for you! Sometimes younger students are worried that they don’t have as much ANS or leadership experience as college juniors and seniors, and that’s why this scholarship exists! You aren’t competing with much older and more experienced students, so I strongly encourage ANY eligible students that are/will be studying in a nuclear-related field to apply!

Students4Nuclear Feature

2017-11-01 00:00:00 +0000

By Katie Mummah, 11/1/2017

This article originally appeared on the Students4Nuclear website

I am a nuclear advocate, a graduate student, and the new student director for the American Nuclear Society. I will be representing students on the ANS Board of Directors for the next two years, and I’m here to encourage you to get involved in pro-nuclear organizations and become a better nuclear advocate.

Here’s a little bit about me—I’m a first-year graduate student in Nuclear Engineering & Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I recently received my Bachelors in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering from the University of Illinois.

Beyond the technical work I do for my degree, I also consider myself a nuclear advocate. I want to separate those two things because anyone can be a nuclear advocate, not just nuclear engineers. If care about nuclear power and understand that it’s a vital part of our electricity generation, you can be a nuclear advocate as well!

Why Advocate?

Advocacy is generally defined as “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.” Nuclear advocacy is talking to people about why you think nuclear energy is important and exciting! Nuclear is a topic many people find fascinating, either because of its potential benefits or the perceived dangers. Sharing your own passion for nuclear, especially with friends and family, can lend some of your knowledge and passion to people who might have an unexamined negative bias for nuclear. Furthermore, it can help you develop as a communicator and find connections with other nuclear advocates while growing your visibility in the nuclear world. Advocacy helps you confront the challenges nuclear faces and determine your own thoughts about how best to address them. In short, nuclear advocacy provides a means of personal growth as a communicator and critical thinker as well as plays an essential role in shifting the public perspective on nuclear energy.

How to be an Advocate

Now, once you consider yourself a nuclear advocate, what are your next steps? It can be difficult to advocate alone–luckily, you don’t have to! There are several great organizations that can help you build a network of connections and volunteer at events.

Generation Atomic

The first is the grassroots organization Generation Atomic. GenA was founded by a nuclear advocate with no engineering background but a love for the environment, nuclear power, and a knack for organizing marches and events. If you’re interested in marching for nuclear, speaking with elected officials, or door-to-door canvassing, this is an amazing organization to join.

GenA even has an app that helps you find events near you, stay up to date with news in the nuclear industry, and connect with others.

American Nuclear Society

Another great option is getting involved with the American Nuclear Society (ANS), both at the student chapter level and at the national level. Again, you don’t have to be a nuclear engineer to get involved with ANS!

Students–does your university have an ANS chapter? Check HERE. If it does, you should check it out! ANS Student sections often hold outreach and advocacy events in their local communities.

If your school doesn’t have a chapter, why not consider starting one? It’s a good way to bring together pro-nuclear students who want to protect the environment and advocate for clean power generation. Check out the resources to start an ANS chapter HERE.

Not a student any more? You can join your Local Section too, which often does similar outreach and advocacy events throughout the year.

Beyond ANS student and local sections, ANS national is also a vibrant community of 11,000 students and professional, and joining is a great way to expand your network. Note- joining your student section is not the same as joining ANS national, so I encourage you all to become a national member of the Society as well as your student or local section.

Are you unsure how to get involved with Generation Atomic, ANS national, or other pro-nuclear organizations? Do you want to learn more about what other students are doing so you can host similar events in your area? Send me your comments!

Becoming an ANS national member allows you to have division and committee memberships, offers incredible networking opportunities, and gets you cheaper rates to attend national conferences. While joining your student sections provides the chance to build leadership skills and impact your community on a local level, joining ANS national allows the opportunity to let your voice be heard in the entire nuclear community.

Finally, I encourage you to get active in your local community. Join an environmental group or service club near you! You can still be a nuclear advocate through those channels! The best part about being a nuclear advocate is that you can do it in your everyday life. It’s a topic that people are often very interested in, so just strike up conversations about it with your neighbors, friends, acquaintances. Lots of people are interested in nuclear power, but they just don’t know much about it. By explaining the benefits and addressing their concerns, you can be a powerful advocate by creating new nuclear advocates!

Students for Nuclear

What’s your story of becoming a nuclear advocate? Consider writing for Students for Nuclear! We are a collection of students who all feel strongly about the benefits of nuclear power, and we’d love to have you! Email contact@students4nuclear.org if you’re interested!

Join ANS!

2017-08-14 00:00:00 +0000

By Katie Mummah, 8/14/2017

This article originally appeared on the ANS Nuclear Cafe

I am the new student director for the American Nuclear Society. I will be representing students on the ANS Board of Directors for the next two years.

Here’s a little bit about me—I’m a first-year graduate student in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I recently received my Bachelors in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering from the University of Illinois. I have held several official positions in the Illinois ANS student section, including president in 2015-2016.

I sit on the Local Sections Committee, am an ex-officio member of the Student Sections Committee, and I am working on becoming more involved in the Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division and Young Members Group in the coming years.

As the student director, it is my privilege and responsibility to be the voice of all student members at the Board of Directors meetings. And although the student director is only voted on by student members of ANS national, this position does have equal voice and voting rights on the Board of Directors.Therefore, I want to extend an open invitation to all students to send me your comments.

Does your student section lack resources? Are you unsure how to get involved with ANS national? Do you want to share an exciting event your student section held/participated in? I want to hear it!

I have created a simple anonymous form to leave me comments, feedback, questions. You do NOT have to be a student to send me feedback, and you are welcome to leave your contact information for me to follow up if you wish.

Prefer to email me directly? I can be contacted at radioactivekate@gmail.com or through ANS collaborate.

Finally, I want to encourage all students to become ANS national members (and remember to renew your membership too) in conjunction with becoming a members of your school’s student section. Joining your student section is not the same as joining ANS national, so I encourage you all to become a national member of the Society, now! And keep in mind that you must be a part of the national Society to take advantage of the benefits offered.

Becoming an ANS national member gives you access to cheaper rates for ANS meetings, allows you to have division and committee memberships, and offers incredible networking opportunities. While joining your student sections provides the chance to build leadership skills and impact your community on a local level, joining ANS national allows the opportunity to let your voice be heard in the entire nuclear community. One new and cool perk offers you an opportunity to grace the social media for ANS. It is allows you to become pretty visible within our Society, trust me… I know. But this offering is only open to ANS national members.

Honestly? Both national and student section memberships are extremely valuable, and neither can replace the other, but be sure to maintain your student AND national memberships every year!

Thank you again to all the students who voted in the election and I look forward to serving you on the board of directors until June 2019!

Nuclear Bootcamp

2017-08-09 00:00:00 +0000

By Susan Mumm

This article originally appeared on the The NPRE Illinois Department Website

Alyssa Hayes, Ari Krause and Katie Mummah, students and recent graduates of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at Illinois, returned from this summer’s Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp with more than just bragging rights.

The three engineers performed well in the camp’s final day presentations, held in July at the University of California-Berkeley. Hayes, an NPRE junior, was a member of the First Place team, NuWorld Modular Manufacturing. Krause and Mummah, who earned bachelor’s degrees in NPRE in May, led Atomic Analytics, which was the competition’s runner-up.

As gratifying as it was to impress their judges, the three found the knowledge they brought back home with them to be what they valued most.

“I wasn’t quite sure what I expected; I didn’t really know what we would get lectured on for two weeks,” said Mummah, who will continue graduate studies in nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin this fall. “But I found the breadth of the lectures that we had was so incredible – we learned about marketing, the legal and regulatory framework for starting a company, and how to get funding.”

As Hayes continues pursuing her degree in NPRE, she’s grown more aware of the opportunities in innovating nuclear engineering technology.

“It helped me expand my interests and is helping me think about what I actually want to do with my long-term career,” Hayes said. “I’m not going to do my own startup, but I’m thinking more like a business person now. Every time I have a problem, I think, ‘There’s a market for this.’”

Krause, who is now earning a master’s of engineering in Energy Systems at Illinois, already is part of a startup company. He’s the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Lumos Industries, dedicated to creating safe, renewable and passive systems to store, cool and generate electricity from spent nuclear fuel. Networking at the bootcamp with professionals who have formed nuclear energy startups confirmed Krause’s own passions.

“It was refreshing and invigorating,” he said. “One of the most important things I got from it was just the sense of relief that people we met and talked with are succeeding in a startup in nuclear.”

Cues from successful nuclear startup company NuScale Power led Hayes and her teammates to the idea for the bootcamp’s winning presentation, NuWorld Modular Manufacturing. The company calls for an assembly plant method to cost-effectively construct small nuclear reactors to meet the need for expected energy growth and replace decommissioned reactors.

The team’s plan would be for companies like NuScale, which design small modular reactors, to order components to be sent to the assembly factory, where the components would be put together and shipped as a completed product for installation in nuclear plants. The team maintained NuWorld’s standardized process would be much more efficient and offer more quality control than the current method, in which individual reactors are constructed on the plant site.

Hayes said one of her teammates works for NuScale, and learned from the company’s executives that assembly is a gap in small modular reactor production. “No one else is doing this; no one is taking the initiative,” she said.

Among her responsibilities within the team, Hayes put together the presentation as well as gathered information to make a case for NuWorld’s premise. “I found out I’m really good at calling up (sources) for rough estimates,” she said. Our team had needed a reactor building crane capable of lifting 750 tons a height of 44 feet with a 69-foot span. I was on the phone for two minutes (with Konecranes) and when (the team) asked how much it was, I said, ‘$5.6 million,’” she said.

Mummah and Krause were the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, respectively, for Atomic Analytics. Recognizing the uniformity of regulations and safety issues that are unique to the nuclear industry, the team based Atomic Analytics on nuclear power utilities’ need for an accessible, easily searchable database to share information about individual plant events.

“An event that happens at a single (nuclear) plant changes the perceptions of the public and the regulatory structures at every other plant in the U.S., and potentially even the world,” Mummah pointed out while presenting.

Atomic Analytics would work in coordination with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), which has collected nuclear power plant information in a database to establish performance objectives, criteria and guidelines for the industry. Utilities pay a fee to INPO to collect the information; for an additional fee, Atomic Analytics’ improved search engine would make the information more accessible for utilities.

Mummah and Krause said that, after achieving Atomic Analytics’ initial objective, the company’s capabilities could expand to help utilities predict future events and avoid problems.

Both team’s ideas required the students to think beyond the technical aspects of nuclear engineering to consider matters such as gaining funding, planning financial strategies, developing partnerships, determining locations, identifying team skills, and a host of other aspects.

“I would recommend (the bootcamp) 100 percent,” Krause said. “During the two-week period, I learned more about how the nuclear industry works than I had in a very long time. This program gives you a broad understanding of every single piece of the puzzle that goes into an innovative startup in nuclear.”


2017-06-29 00:00:00 +0000

By Susan Mumm

This article originally appeared on the University of Illinois NPRE Department Website

A project that would provide wet interim storage for used nuclear fuel has won the 2017 Daniel F. Hang Outstanding Senior Design Award.

Currently, decommissioned nuclear reactors bear the costs and responsibilities of storing and maintaining spent nuclear fuel on site. Katie Mummah, Jin Wan Bae, Dan O’Grady and Alex Lopez, now new graduates of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at Illinois, offered the solution, Nuclear Waste Wet Interim Storage (NuWWIS).

“While currently operating facilities can cover the cost of this storage from their revenue, decommissioned reactors must continue to store this fuel even without revenue generation,” Mummah said. “In some cases, this fuel represents the last obstacle to obtaining green field status, in which the reactor is fully decommissioned and nothing remains on site.”

The U.S. federal government’s initial goal of establishing a permanent geological repository to store spent nuclear fuel by 1998 was halted, and a solution is not expected in the near-term. Generating plants were constructed with pools to hold the waste temporarily, but those have reached maximum capacity and spent fuel now is being held in dry casks onsite.

NuWWIS calls for removing the spent fuel from decommissioned plants and transferring it to a centralized location. “Our project was developed due to a growing interest in interim storage, as the number of decommissioned reactors continues to grow,” Mummah said. “The benefits that arise from taking this fuel from the decommissioned site are comparable to the cost of the interim storage.”

The students’ project would be able to store spent fuel currently in dry cask storage as well as that in wet storage. “NuWWIS will also ease the transportation of spent nuclear fuel when a final repository is opened, as all the spent nuclear fuel from all 27 decommissioned reactors would be coming from one location,” Mummah said.

The Hang award was created in honor of the late Emeritus Prof. Daniel F. Hang, one of NPRE’s founders. Hang, who died at the age of 95 in December 2013, was passionate about nuclear engineering design, and emphasized the coupling of economics analysis with successful design work. He also strongly advocated students becoming licensed Professional Engineers.