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UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair Wirth Named American Nuclear Society Fellow

UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering Brian Wirth.
UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering Brian Wirth.

Brian Wirth, the joint UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering, has been named a fellow of the American Nuclear Society, the group’s highest honor.

ANS President Robert Coward said that the recognition is in response to Wirth’s “advancement of nuclear science and technology through the years.” He received the award Monday during the ANS winter conference in Washington, DC.

“Brian is a foremost expert on nuclear fuels and materials, and this acknowledges and solidifies that,” said Wes Hines, head of UT’s nuclear engineering department and the Charles P. Postelle Distinguished Professor in Nuclear Engineering.

“His research in understanding radiation damage to materials and the development of new materials for nuclear energy production is critical, both for UT and ORNL as institutions as well as the drive for clean energy.”

Wirth left the University of California, Berkeley, in 2010 to join UT as a Governor’s Chair.

His modeling ability has helped researchers around the world gain a better understanding of what will be required for the next generation of nuclear energy production.

The development of fusion as an energy source is particularly challenging, with the need to develop new materials capable of confining plasma gas ions at temperatures several hundred times hotter than current fission reactors.

Wirth’s models, research, and computations are allowing that work to proceed and are partly why he was honored by the ANS.

“It’s a very nice recognition of all the hard work I’ve put in over the years,” said Wirth. “Only a small group of people are ever chosen for this, so to have peers select me for it is humbling and a recognition for myself, as well as all of the researchers and collaborators with whom I’ve been fortunate to work.”

Wirth is the fourth active faculty member in the department to be named an ANS Fellow, along with Hines, Professor Richard Wood, and UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Nuclear Materials Steven Zinkle. Professors Emeriti Lawrence Townsend and Belle Upadhyaya, joint UT-ORNL faculty Jess Gehin and Yutai Katoh, and adjunct faculty Steven Arndt, Hash Hashemian, and Alan Icenhour also hold the distinction.

The ANS was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit entity with the goal of promoting nuclear science and technology. It now includes 11,000 members representing 1,600 universities, research centers, and businesses.