Andrew Panter, an undergraduate student in the U-M Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences has been awarded a scholarship of $10,000 through the University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP).
The scholarship through UNLP is to empower and support the next generation of leaders whose innovative nuclear research would help achieve the President’s ambitious climate goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035, and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“I feel incredibly honored to receive this award. The NERS program has been a whirlwind for the past three years,” Panter said, “with all the opportunities I have been afforded and wonderful peers and faculty I have met. I am proud to represent the University of Michigan’s commitment to academic excellence through this program.”
Hailing from Rockwood, Michigan, Panter grew up near the Monroe Fermi nuclear plant but knew very little about nuclear energy until the summer before college. Full Body Burden, a memoir by Kristen Iverson, introduced Panter to radiation safety and the history of the atomic bomb. The book details Iverson’s life near the Rocky Flats facility, a manufacturing plant that was part of the Manhattan Project and experienced multiple leaks and accidents that were covered up by the leadership. He was provided with the book as a freshman as part of the Common Reading Experience. Since reading the book, nuclear technology and the unique ethical considerations that come along with it have fascinated him.
Currently, Panter is conducting research on campus with the Detection for Nuclear Nonproliferation Group, led by Prof. Sara Pozzi. “My main focus has been examining novel detection methods for shielded special nuclear material at critical cargo transport locations like national borders,” Panter said. “Currently, we are examining the use of photon active interrogation to increase the neutron signature signal from uranium samples.” His role is to characterize the light output from small organic scintillator detectors so they can extract neutron energy information while reducing photon pile-up.
At U-M, Panter is now serving as treasurer for the American Nuclear Society U-M Student Chapter as well as for Roe v. Rape, an advocacy group that serves to support victims of sexual violence on campus and in the broader community.
“This summer, I will be an intern at the NRC’s Region III office in Lisle, IL, in the spent fuel division.” Panter said, “My goal for this summer was to diversify my experience away from measurement research, so this regulation-focused internship will provide a new perspective on the field for me.” He also plans to complete the SUGS program following his senior year to explore more advanced applications of nuclear science.
“I would like to thank Christopher Meert, my research mentor, for providing me a challenging space to grow and develop my skills, both technical and soft, and for providing me guidance on short-term and long-term goals.” Panter added, “I would also like to thank Michelle Sonderman, who is always searching for ways to improve the department herself and encouraging students to actively shape the NERS events.”