Meredith Eaheart, a PhD student in the U-M Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences has been awarded a three-year, $161,000 fellowship beginning in the fall of 2022 through the University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP).
Through UNLP, the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) is awarding more than $5 million for 61 undergraduate scholarships and 28 graduate fellowships to students pursuing nuclear energy-related disciplines at 32 colleges and universities across the country this year. The program is an investment in the next generation of leaders whose research in innovative nuclear energy would not only help fight today’s climate challenges but also help the United States meet the Biden Administration’s ambitious goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“I’m honored and excited to receive the UNLP fellowship!” Eaheart said. “I’m looking forward to spending the next few years focused on my research and I’m thankful for the flexibility that this fellowship gives me.”
Eaheart’s formative years were in Richmond, Virginia. In high school, she wanted to study mechanical engineering but after she learned about the large amount of clean energy that could be produced from fission from an engineer who visited her physics class, she proceeded to combine her interests in mechanical and nuclear engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At VCU, she became interested in chemistry and even conducted undergraduate research in the Radiochemistry Lab with Dr. Supathorn Phongikaroon in the Molten Salt Research group which helped her combine her interests in chemistry and nuclear engineering.
During her time at VCU, Eaheart did two co-ops at DuPont in R&D and manufacturing and one internship with Southern Nuclear as a reactor engineer at Plant Edwin I. Hatch. After graduation, she interned at Framatome as well.
In September 2020, Eaheart attended a virtual career fair hosted by the American Nuclear Society (ANS) where she learned about different advanced nuclear reactor designs. In order to combine her interests in thermal hydraulics and policy for advanced nuclear reactors, Eaheart joined the University of Michigan for further education, where she also wanted to work with experts in her fields of interest. Now co-advised by Dr. Sun and Dr. Allen, Eaheart is also collaborating with Dr. Prashant Jain and Nathan See at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on the thermal-hydraulic aspects of the Transformational Challenge Reactor Design.
At UM, Eaheart enjoys attending events for WIN and GradSWE while her hobbies include visiting bakeries, going to the gym, hiking, traveling, and photography.
In the future, Eaheart would like to work on the development and implementation of an advanced reactor design after she completes her graduate studies.
“I would like to thank my professors, mentors, family, and friends for all of their support. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish everything that I have so far without their help,” Eaheart said, “I would especially like to thank my mom, dad, and sister for being there for me throughout my whole journey.”