Dr. Wei Ji

Dr. Wei Ji
After receiving his BS degree in engineering physics from Tsinghua University at Beijing, China in 1999, Dr. Ji went on to earn a MS in the area of nuclear technology and its application from the same institution in 2002. He then came to the U.S. to enter the Ph.D. program in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Michigan, earning his MS in 2004 and Ph.D. in 2007. During this period, Dr. Ji had participated in several DOE funded projects on the research, development and demonstration of Very-high Temperature Gas-cooled Reactors, one of the promising candidates for Next Generation Nuclear Power Plant. He had been a research specialist at General Atomics and Argonne National Laboratory in 2005, working on the advanced fuel cycle designs using deep-burn gas cooled reactors. After receiving his Ph.D. at Michigan, Dr. Ji joined RPI as an Assistant Professor in January 2008. He was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in July 2015. At RPI, Dr. Ji leads the Rensselaer Nuclear Engineering Advanced Modeling and Simulation Group (R-NEAMS), focusing on the development of advanced computation methodologies that are applied to the areas of nuclear energy, medical physics, and nuclear criticality safety. These methods include Monte Carlo modeling of radiation transport in stochastic media, on-the-fly sampling of thermal inelastic scattering reaction at any temperature based on S(alpha, beta) nuclear data, multi-physics models for coupled granular flow and fluid flow simulations in pebble-bed reactors, and new algorithms on heterogeneous parallel CPU-GPU-Coprocessor architectures to accelerate Monte Carlo simulations. Dr. Ji has been leading or co-leading research projects funded by Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, National Institute of Health, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He has authored over ninety peer-reviewed publications and served on the program and organizing committees of various national and international professional societies, workshops and conferences.
Dr. Ji’s Home Page

Christopher Morrison

Chris Morrison
Chris joined the R-NEAMS research group in Fall of 2012 after he finished his undergrad in computer science and aerospace engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Chris is studying nuclear reactor design with an emphasis on designing small modular nuclear reactors that are inherently safe. Chris’ eventual goal in life is to design space fission reactors to power a new generation of spacecraft that can travel throughout the Solar System. He also has a passion for teaching and plans eventually retire to a teaching position after his professional career.
Chris’ Home Page

Jaron Senecal

Jaron Senecal
Coming from Olathe, Kansas, Jaron started his doctoral studies in fall 2013. He has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Walla Walla University (2013). His research includes high-temperature tolerant fuels for use in existing nuclear reactors. He is also studying methods of coupling separate physics solvers (e.g. heat transfer and neutron transport) to create unified multiphysics simulations. He is a licensed Senior Reactor Operator at RPI’s Walthousen Reactor Critical Facility. He enjoys travel and the outdoors.

Matthew Eklund

Matthew Eklund
Matthew finished his work at the University of Utah for a Master’s of Science in Nuclear Engineering in 2015. He also earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the same institution in 2013. His research focuses on modelling multiphysics experiments using the DOE state-of-the-art modeling tools PROTEUS and NEK5000.

Mathieu Dupont

Mathieu Dupont
Mathieu started his PhD in Fall 2015 after completing a Master’s degree in Nuclear Instrumentation and 2 years of working as a Nuclear Measurement Engineer in France. His areas of expertise are radiation detectors and gamma spectroscopy. Now, he is working on designing multi-physics experiments at the RCF, as a part of a multi-year DOE project. His passions are online gaming, soccer, running, eating good food.

Joey McPherson

Joey McPherson
Joey obtained his Master’s of Science in Physics in 2015 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is working towards his PhD in Nuclear Engineering. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Physics from Rhodes College in 2014.

Samuel Walker

Originally hailing from the piney woods of east Texas, Sam earned his bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from LeTourneau University in 2014. After spending a year teaching abroad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his wife, Sam joined the NEAMS research group at RPI in Fall of 2016.

His research focuses on computational simulations of the Gen. IV molten salt reactor (MSR). Sam was awarded the DOE NEUP fellowship in May 2017 and hopes to develop multi-physics models for MSR safety and transient analysis.

Peter Kowal

Peter Kowal
Peter graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering at RPI in May 2017. He has also earned an A.S. in Engineering Science from Hudson Valley Community College before transferring into the Nuclear Engineering program. His research focuses on the effects of radiation on semiconductor devices in high radiation environments such as space. This work will amount to a comprehensive simulation of both energy deposition and electrical effects induced by the radiation. Along with research, he is undergoing training to be a licensed Senior Reactor Operator at the Walthousen Reactor Critical Facility.

Kurt Dominesey

Kurt obtained his Bachelor’s of Science in Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2017, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Nuclear Science and Engineering. His current research includes integration of the neutronics codes MCNP and Proteus into the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Engineering Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS) toolkit.

Former R-NEAMS Members

Dr. Yanheng Li

Yanheng Li
Yanheng graduated with his Ph.D. in 2014. His research area includes thermal-fluids modeling/simulation of Pebble Bed Reactors, general granular system modeling and spatial hashing algorithm for particle collision resolution.

Dr. Chao Liang

Chao Liang
Chao Liang was a Ph.D. student who graduated in 2014. He received his B.S. degree in Physics from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 2006, and M.S. degree in Physics from Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 2009. His research interests are radiation transport computation using Monte Carlo Method, algorithm development for radiation transport computation in stochastic media, reactor fuel design, etc.
Chao’s Home Page

Dr. Andrew Pavlou


Andrew received his B.S. degree in nuclear engineering and engineering physics (Magna Cum Laude) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009, his M.S. degree in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences from the University of Michigan in 2011, and his Ph.D. degree in nuclear engineering and science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2015. He spent the summers of 2011 and 2014 as a research assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory working in the XCP-3 Monte Carlo codes group. For his doctoral research, Andrew developed a novel method for sampling secondary neutron scattering parameters adaptively in temperature in the thermal energy range for Monte Carlo simulations of neutron transport. This research drastically reduces the amount of nuclear data that needs to be stored for thermal neutron scattering.
Andrew’s Home Page

Dr. Elise Pusateri

Elise Pusateri
Elise graduated in the summer of 2016 with her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering working on the electron swarm model. She did her undergraduate in Nuclear Engineering at RPI and continued her undergraduate research with her advisor, Dr. Wei Ji. Elise is avidly pro-nuclear power and has done research in the inherently safe, next-generation nuclear reactors with Dr. Ji for the first two years of her Ph.D. Dr. Ji encouraged her to attend a 10 week Computational Physics Workshop at LANL during Summer 2012 where she worked with Dr. Heidi Tierney on developing an electron swarm model for studying lightening initiation. Dr. Tierney invited Elise back to LANL as a GRA and is able to continue her research as a collaborative effort at RPI during the semesters and at LANL during the breaks and she continued research in that area for her Ph.D.
Elise’s Home Page

Co-Terminal Master Students

Manuel Franco

Manuel Franco
Manuel joined the R-NEAMS group as a fifth year co-terminal student in Fall 2016. He graduated in May 2017. He has previously completed his undergrad coursework at RPI as a dual Nuclear-Mechanical Engineer. For his master’s work his project focuses on radiation damage effects in silicon. More specifically how single ion strikes will change the 3D reciprocal space in the crystal lattice of silicon. As humanity pushes deeper into space is important to know how materials will behave at the atomistic level in such harsh radiation environments.

Beren Evans

Beren Evans
Beren spent his fifth year as a student within the co-terminal program earning his M.S. in Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he also completed coursework for a B.S. in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. He graduated in May 2017. His current research topic is primarily concerned with the investigation and application of novel radiation shielding techniques.

Ferheen Qureshi

Ferheen Qureshi
Ferheen graduated in May 2017 from RPI’s co-terminal program with both her M.S. and B.S. in Nuclear Science and Engineering. Ferheen’s master’s research consists of the optimization of GE-14 fuel assemblies with regards to critical power ratio and high reload.

Paul Blejwas

PaulPaul seeks to design a viable nuclear reactor for space applications. MCNP6.1 (Monte Carlo N-Particle code) is being used to systematically evaluate a number of design factors. Simulations are given special care and designed to examine specific parts of potential reactors. Fuels and fuel mixtures, reactor geometry and size, possible moderators, and coolant channels are all items of interest; many of these items require collaboration from other areas of the project as well as from the existing nuclear industry. Through careful iteration and inspection we hope to move towards feasible reactor designs for space applications.

Michael Ishida

One of the power conversion systems that the group is considering for the project is a two-phase space Rankine system. I am working on the thermodynamic analyses of space Rankine systems, developing a cohesive Rankine model that takes user inputs for key thermodynamic values of the system and outputs performance metrics. I am in the process of validating the equations and analysis methods by attempting to recreate the results of existing published papers about other proposed space Rankine systems. If unable to recreate results within a certain tolerance for varying input data assumptions, the model and equations will need to be adjusted to be more accurate. The model will be adjusted to reflect the research done by others in the group on different components of the system. Once that is complete, I will create a design for the possible Rankine system (picking a working fluid, operating temperature, radiator size, etc.) given the given mission constraints; the performance estimates of this optimal Rankine system will be compared to the performance estimates of other systems.

Ryan Moriarty

Ryan’s research is centered around the analysis of thermodynamic systems on nuclear powered spacecraft using an electric propulsion system. Such electric spacecraft are important to the future of space exploration as they are more efficient than chemical powered rockets. Therefore, the development of systems which can efficiently convert the thermal power into electric power a key step in furthering our exploration abilities.

Dana Stevens

Dana’s research focuses on radiators and heat exchangers for spacecraft with electric engines and nuclear power. In order to be efficient the space craft needs to have a good power to weight ratio. The heavier the spacecraft is, the more expensive it would be to send it into space. One aspect of the research is figuring out the best thermodynamic system for powering the spacecraft. The role that I will be playing is looking into the radiator in the thermodynamic system. The radiator needs to work efficiently at dispelling heat. Another requirement is that the radiator is light enough to send into space. We will be looking at the specific power of the radiator.

Kyle V. Neumann

Kyle V Neumann
Kyle earned a Bachelors of Science in nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in December of 2016. During the summer of 2015 Kyle examined the Doppler Broadening utility and the burn-up functions of MCNP6, which will be used in future research into advanced reactor concepts. Currently he is examining the effects of radiation on the solubility of dissolved salts in nuclear waste stored at the Hanford and Savannah River sites. In addition to the solubility of particles in the waste, Kyle is examining the effects the multiphase composition of the waste has on the dissolution rate of each mineral particle phase in the waste tanks.