The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on September 18 that it expects to award 24 research and development grants totaling more than $11.7 million in fiscal year 2023 University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP) funds to university researchers in early 2024.
This is only the fourth year the NRC has offered a research component under the UNLP, which provides grants to academic institutions to support research and development for nuclear science, engineering, technology, and related disciplines. The grants are intended to develop a workforce capable of supporting the design, construction, operation, and regulation of nuclear facilities as well as the safe handling of nuclear materials, according to the agency.
“We are very impressed with the quality of these proposals and look forward to continuing to support the development of the nuclear talent of tomorrow,” said Ray Furstenau, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research.
Nearly all of the awards are valued near or at $500,000, which is the maximum award value. The grant proposals included three minority serving institutions and nine partnering institutions. The remainder of available FY2023 UNLP funds will be allotted for scholarships, fellowships, trade schools/community colleges, and distinguished faculty advancement, and will be awarded by the end of April 2024.
Award recipients: The final awards will be issued by the end of January 2024 and posted in February on the NRC website, but the likely recipients and their award amounts are listed in the September 18 announcement. The 24 awards fall under seven categories:
- Three awards in artificial intelligence/machine learning—University of Michigan, North Carolina State University, and Ohio State University.
- Two awards in electrical and instrumentation and control—University of Texas–Austin and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
- Two awards in fuels analysis: University of California–Berkeley and North Carolina State University.
- Six awards in materials performance—Purdue University, University of Pittsburgh (two awards, granted to two different researchers), Texas A&M University–College Station, University of Nevada–Reno, and University of Wisconsin–Madison.
- Four awards in neutronics analysis—Kansas State University, Texas A&M University–Kingsville, University of New Mexico, and Louisiana State University.
- Two awards in radiation protection analysis—Colorado State University and University of Puerto Rico–Mayaguez.
- Five awards in risk analysis: Purdue University, University of Maryland, University of California–Los Angeles, University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, and University of Alabama–Birmingham.