The MIT Nuclear Reactor: a World-Class Facility for Research and Education
A description of the MIT Nuclear Reactor with examples of outstanding research taking place in this facility. The reactor is a versatile tool that allows faculty and students to probe the properties of materials and sensors in a radiation environment, transmute chemical elements into other chemical elements, detect impurities at exquisitely low concentrations, perform neutron radiography of objects, produce radionuclides for medical applications, learn the physics of chain-reaction systems, and much more.
Jacopo Buongiorno is the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Director of Science and Technology of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. He teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in thermo-fluids engineering and nuclear reactor engineering. Jacopo has published 90 journal articles in the areas of reactor safety and design, two-phase flow and heat transfer, and nanofluid technology. For his research work and his teaching at MIT he won several awards, among which the ANS Outstanding Teacher Award (2019), the MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellowship (2014), the ANS Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award (2011), the ASME Heat Transfer Best Paper Award (2008), and the ANS Mark Mills Award (2001). Jacopo is the Director of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES). In 2016-2018 he led the MIT study on the Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World. Jacopo is a consultant for the nuclear industry in the area of reactor thermal-hydraulics, and a member of the Accrediting Board of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. He is also a member of the Naval Studies Board, a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society (including service on its Special Committee on Fukushima in 2011-2012), a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and a participant in the Defense Science Study Group (2014-2015).
Designer, builder, operator, administrator, and teacher, Gordon Kohse, deputy director of research and services for MIT’s Nuclear Research Laboratory (NRL), delights in wearing many hats. After nearly 40 years at the facility, Kohse continues to relish the daily duties of ensuring the smooth operation of experiments at the NRL, and the longer-term challenges of advancing the latest nuclear engineering technologies.
As well as designing and implementing large, collaborative experiments taking place inside the NRL year-round, Kohse carries a significant instructional load. In addition to one-on-one mentoring of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) students for lab and thesis work, he co-teaches the foundational NSE lab course, 22.09 Principles of Nuclear Radiation Measurement and Protection. A communications intensive class, 22.09 represents “for a lot of students their first exposure to rigorous science writing,” says Kohse. He takes particular pleasure in the speed with which his students catch on. “The improvement from first reports to the end of the course, in just a few months, is remarkable,” he says. The satisfaction runs both ways: Kohse received the 2015-2016 PAI Outstanding Faculty Award, presented by the student chapter of the American Nuclear Society.
Kohse also supervises student research projects of all levels, and organizes outreach activities that expose a range of young minds to the NRL, including Korean student groups and high school girls interested in STEM fields.
Part of the Spring 2020 Artistic Research Luncheon Series