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NERS student awards sweep

The NERS department’s graduate students are an accomplished group, earning recognition from the College of Engineering, the University and professional societies for their research and leadership contributions. Congratulations to all!

by Kim Roth

Patrick Skrodzki
In May, PhD pre-candidate Patrick Skrodzki won the 2017 Innovation in Nuclear Technology R&D award. Skrodzki is a graduate student in the Applied Nuclear Science Instrumentation Laboratory led by Professor Igor Jovanovic. Skrodzki earned the award for the article, “Significance of ambient conditions in uranium absorption and emission features of laser ablation plasmas,” which was published in November 2016 in the journal Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy.

David Yager-Elorriaga
David Yager-Elorriaga, a graduate student of professors Ron Gilgenbach and Y.Y. Lau in the Plasma, Pulsed Power, and Microwave Laboratory, has been awarded the 2017 Igor Alexeff Outstanding Student in Plasma Science Award. The award was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Plasma Sciences in Atlantic City in May. Yager-Elorriaga was recognized for his “innovative research contributions to the plasma science of excitation and stabilization of instabilities in pulsed-power driven foil plasma implosions.”

Tim Burke
Tim Burke (PhD NERS ’16, BS NERS, ’12), a NERS post-doctoral fellow during the 2016-’17 academic year, won the Best Summary and Presentation award from the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Mathematics and Computation Division for his talk, “Monte Carlo Estimates of Eigenvalue Sensitivity to System Dimensions using Kernel Density Estimators.” Burke presented at the 2017 ANS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. During his post-doctoral research at U-M, he worked with Professor Brian Kiedrowski, developing novel Monte Carlo methods to obtain sensitivities of the eigenvalue, reaction rate ratios and kinetics parameters to perturbations of system dimensions.

Now doing post-doctoral research at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Burke also won the ANS Mark Mills Award, which recognizes a graduate student who has authored the “best original technical paper contributing to the advancement of science and engineering related to the atomic nucleus.” Burke won for his article, “Kernel Density Estimation of Reaction Rates in Neutron Transport Simulations of Nuclear Reactors.”

Ciara Sivels
PhD candidate Ciara Sivels has won the Marion Sarah Parker Graduate Prize, given to “an outstanding woman graduate student who has demonstrated academic excellence, leadership qualities and outstanding contributions to the University and/or community.” Sivels is a member of the NERS graduate student committee and plans the Women in NERS luncheons. She’s also active in other campus groups and a devoted volunteer at the Huron Valley Humane Society.

Crystal Green
PhD candidate Crystal Green has won the College of Engineering Distinguished Leadership Award. The award is given to students who have “demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to the College, University, and community.”

Green, part of the NERS new Medical Physics certificate program, was recognized for her service as president of the Society of Minority Engineers and Scientists Graduate Component (SMES-G) and lead instructor for NERS “Glow Blue” Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program outreach course for 2016-’17. Under her leadership SMES-G organized a workshop on implicit bias that Rackham Graduate School will require for all graduate students as part of efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion.

Green also won the 2016 Women of Color STEM Conference Leadership Award for her involvement on the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate advisory board during her first and second year of graduate school. She has helped organize conferences and events for graduate students interested in pursuing careers in academia and was involved in outreach and other recruitment efforts for the NERS department.

Janis Lai
PhD candidate Janis Lai has received a College of Engineering Distinguished Leadership Award. Lai works with Professor John E. Foster on plasma-liquid interactions and environmental applications. Lai is a founding member and current co-president of Graduate Rackham International and has previously served as professional development co-chair for the Graduate Society of Women Engineers. She’s also a campus incubator/R&D project leader for Sustainability Without Borders.

Amanda Lietz
PhD candidate Amanda Lietz received the Richard F. and Eleanor A Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement. The prize is given a master’s or PhD student in each degree program who has demonstrated outstanding achievement. Criteria include academic performance, research participation and leadership.

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