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Shaping the future of nuclear detection

Learning techniques to combat nuclear trafficking, touring the world’s first plutonium production reactor, and spending time analyzing radiation detection methods in a state-of-the-art underground laboratory are not opportunities available to most students. These are just a few of the activities that students recently participated in at the third annual Radiation Detection for Nuclear Security Summer School.             

Co-sponsored by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development, the program brought 13 graduate students from across the country to Richland, Wash., for hands-on training in detecting radiological signatures relevant to nuclear security. Participants engaged in interactive discussion and activities on a variety of technical, policy, and operational challenges, including the Fukushima incident response, NNSA’s technology-focused threat reduction program, and the nuclear fuel cycle.

The two-week course provides students with a unique understanding of nuclear security challenges and real-world constraints faced in the field. It is designed to expose them to the technical foundations, analysis and insight that will fuel future research and careers in nuclear security.

Shaping the future of nuclear detection
PNNL physicist Bob Runkle (middle) explains the nuances of neutron detection to physics students Matthew Michalak, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison, and Emily Jackson, Univ. of Massachusetts Lowell, during a testing exercise at PNNL’s Large Detector Laboratory.

Shaping the future of nuclear detection
2014 Radiation Detection for Nuclear Security Summer School students and instructors.