By Will Ferguson, College of Arts & Sciences

Aurora-ClarkPULLMAN, Wash. – The new Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology (INST) will bring together diverse scientists and researchers at Washington State University to address global challenges in security, human health, energy and environmental quality.

“At a national level, one of the major research problems in nuclear science and technology is that experts working on one specific type of problem often are isolated from colleagues working in other areas,” said Aurora Clark, professor of chemistry and director of the institute.

Teams work to solve nuclear safety, cleanup issues

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Nathalie Wall works with a student. At top, Aurora Clark.

Approved by the WSU Board of Regents in September, INST includes faculty from three colleges and will enable creative solutions to challenges in radioecology, nuclear energy, nuclear medicine and nuclear policy.

“WSU is unique in that we already have more than 20 faculty members on campus specializing in a range of nuclear science specialties,” Clark said. “The framework of the institute provides an opportunity to pool our expertise and resources to tackle big problems facing industry and the country in general.”

For example, the institute’s researchers are devising quick and safe ways to recertify nuclear reactors and extend their operating life. Another area of research is cleanup of radioactive contamination at Hanford and other sites of nuclear weapons production.

Training the next generation of nuclear scientists

In addition to conducting cutting-edge research, INST will take a leading role in training new scientists in the field of nuclear science and technology.

“Researchers and staff trained in America’s nuclear era in the late 20th century are retiring in large numbers, and the current supply of qualified employees will not be able to keep up with demand,” said Nathalie Wall, associate professor of chemistry and director of the WSU radiochemistry traineeship program. “Through INST, our students are accessing a variety of research experiences and are enhancing their training to become proficient in nuclear science and technology.”

“Now that we are a formal unit, INST will provide new opportunities in the context of training a well-educated workforce that can influence policy at the government level and help us as a nation make more informed decisions in the future,” Clark said.

 

News media contact:
Aurora Clark, WSU Department of Chemistry, 509-335-3362, auclark@wsu.edu