Boise State student earns nuclear materials fellowship

Boise State student earns nuclear materials fellowship

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Courtesy Kathleen Tuck, Boise State Update.

Dale Brown, a graduate student in the Boise State University Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is the recipient of a Nuclear Materials Fellowship funded by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The award supports the first year of study by a science or engineering graduate student.

The purpose of the fellowship is to support development of a workforce with technical expertise in nuclear science and engineering and related technical fields. Recipients agree to work in a nuclear-related field for a specified period of time following graduation.

Brown earned two bachelor’s degrees from Northwest Nazarene University in 2010, where he graduated magna cum laude, and completed his master of science in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He joined Boise State’s Integrated Nanomaterials and Thermal Science and Energy Systems laboratories in August, where he is co-advised by professors David Estrada, materials science and engineering, and Yanliang Zhang, mechanical and biomedical engineering. His research involves investigating the fundamental materials properties of two-dimensional crystals and their practical applications as thermoelectric materials and radiation sensors.

Brown’s research proposal deals with the use of atomically thin 2D materials to improve radiation detection technologies. In his proposal, he notes that accurately quantifying radiation is of particular importance in next-generation nuclear power plants, which will have higher radiation fluxes than current technologies. Additionally, nuclear waste containment, nuclear nonproliferation, radiation therapy and space travel all require sensitive detection of radiation.

Brown hopes to advance the state of research in nuclear materials, especially in the areas of radiation detection and radiation hardening of devices. “I look forward to the challenge of conducting research in an emerging field and hope to contribute to our knowledge of nuclear radiation and to the advanced nuclear, electronic and space technologies of the future.”

Zhang said he is excited about Brown’s future at Boise State University. “I believe Dale’s success in earning this fellowship comes as no surprise to anyone who has worked closely with him. His experimental and simulation background in physics positions him to make significant contributions to the interdisciplinary fields of materials science and engineering and nuclear engineering.”

Estrada believes Brown’s previous experience will have a lasting impact on Boise State’s materials science and engineering department. “Dale has proved his leadership and research prowess by mentoring undergraduate research assistants while building the research capabilities of two different laboratories,” he said. “The tools he is developing will benefit future Boise State students across multiple disciplines for years to come.”