Grants Elevate National Profile of Radiochemistry Program

Two recent grants elevate the national profile of UCF’s radiochemistry program.

The first connects the university with a $25 million consortium funded by the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) in nuclear forensics. The consortium — comprised of 15 academic institutions and seven national labs —trains students on topics related to national security and nuclear non-proliferation.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Vasileios Anagnostopoulos, Ph.D., heads the program at UCF. His research focuses on developing ultra-sensitive techniques to detect trace amounts of materials left behind by small scale nuclear reactions. Real world applications include detecting terror attacks and first responder preparedness.

The second grant comes from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitors the use of nuclear materials for the U.S. government. This grant provides doctoral students with fellowships that support nuclear waste management research and provides internship opportunities in national labs.

Anagnostopoulos stresses a national need for trained nuclear chemists as the current workforce reaches retirement age.

“A pipeline is necessary in order to advance the country’s energy and security mission,” he said. “I am honored to be part of the national effort to change this. UCF is the ideal place to do this: an R1 Hispanic Serving Institution committed to innovation and excellence.”   

Anagnostopoulos notes the scarcity of similar radiochemistry programs on the national level makes UCF an attractive option for talented and driven graduate students.

“This is a cutting-edge skill set and training that allows student to be very competitive upon graduation”, he said. “The goal is to train tomorrow’s scientists so upon graduation they will enter the nuclear workforce, contribute to their field and ultimately, take our country’s technology one step further.”

Anagnostopoulos was the recipient of the 2019 NRC faculty Development Award and is actively involved in Nuclear Workforce Development efforts for Minority Serving Institutions, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Read more about the consortium here and the NRC Fellowships here

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