Juliano Schorne-Pinto, Research Assistant Professor
Juliano earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Institut National
Polytechnique de Toulouse for his research at the CIRIMAT and Laboratoire de Génie
Chimique (LGC). His undergraduate and master’s studies were completed at the Université
de Montpellier and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in a dual-degree
path in MSE and Physical chemistry of materials, respectively. His research focus
includes thermodynamic modeling of materials, crystallography, and thermo-structural
and thermodynamic characterization of materials.
Johnathon Ard, Ph.D. Student
Ard earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering
from Kennesaw State University in 2017. His undergraduate research focused on the
physiochemical analysis of cerium-doped bioactive borate glasses as a novel carrier
for cerium nanoparticles.
Mina Aziziha, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Mina earned her Ph.D. and M.SC. in Condensed Matter Physics from West Virginia University
(WVU). At WVU, she synthesized and characterized strongly correlated complex oxides.
She studied the optical and magnetic properties of materials, experimentally and computationally,
with potential optical devices and spintronics applications. As a postdoctoral researcher,
her research focus is on thermodynamic and structural phase characterization and thermodynamic
modeling of materials.
Ronald E. Booth, Post-doctoral fellow
Ronald earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina State
University in 2021. He also holds a B.S.E. in Engineering Physics from Murray State
University. At NC State, his research work was focused on flexible semitransparent
electrode fabrication and implementation for wearable electronic and organic photovoltaic
devices. Ronald’s current work is addressing the thermodynamic modelling of tri-carbide
fuel mixtures for nuclear thermal propulsion applications.
Clara Dixon, Ph.D. Student
Clara earned her Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry and Biology with a minor
in mathematics from the University of Washington - Bothell in 2020. She realized her
passion for thermodynamics and physical chemistry as an undergraduate, and decided
to pursue a PhD in nuclear engineering because she is a big proponent of clean energy
and is passionate about environmental conservation. Her current research consists
of thermodynamic modeling of molten salt systems, in particular systems containing
volatile fission products cesium and iodine.
Amir Mofrad, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Amir earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia
in 2020, where his research focused on the application of electronic structure calculations
to vibrational spectroscopy and gas encapsulation in zeolites. He also holds a bachelor's
degree in chemical engineering from Sharif University of Technology. Amir’s current
research and activities as a postdoc in Dr. Besmann's group focus on predicting Raman
spectra of complex molten salts as well as modeling these crystalline materials using
density functional theory calculations.
Jorge Paz Soldan Palma, post-doctoral fellow
Jorge earned his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the Pennsylvania State
University in 2022, where his research was based on the studying the thermodynamic
stability of the Yb14MnSb11 thermoelectric compound when exposed to extreme conditions.
Dr. Palma’s current research is focused on the thermodynamic modeling of molten salt
systems and broader aspects of modeling and computing these properties.
Joshua L. Wermers, undergraduate
Josh is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering with a minor
in mathematics and nuclear engineering from the University of South Carolina. He is
currently a sophomore at the university and is a McNair Scholar. Nuclear chemistry
gained his interest in his freshman year chemistry class. He is currently supporting
our research on molten salt thermodynamics performing data mining and database tasks.
Josh hopes to pursue a career in nuclear engineering for a major power supply company.
Jacob Yingling, Ph.D. Student
Jacob gained his career interest in nuclear power while pursuing his undergraduate
degree in Chemical Engineering at Brigham Young University. Since then, he served
his country as an Active Duty component of the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program where
he taught courses in Math, Physics, and Reactor Core Dynamics at the Naval Nuclear
Power Training Command. He is currently in the latter stages of completing a Master
of Science in Nuclear Engineering through his work modeling silicon carbide clad uranium
silicide fuels and recently began a Ph.D. program where he is engaged in developing
a thermochemical database for use in the design and operation of Generation IV Molten
Ceren Kutahyali Aslani, Faculty Affiliate
Ceren Kutahyali Aslani earned her Ph.D. and MSc degree from the Institute of Nuclear
Sciences, Ege University focusing adsorptive separation of actinides from solutions.
She obtained BSc from the Chemistry Department of Ege University. Between 2006 and
2008, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at JRC-Institute for Transuranium Elements
on a project of spent fuel waste forms corrosion studies. Her research focuses on
synthesis of new sorbent materials, composites and nanostructures for partitioning
of actinides and lanthanides for radioactive nuclear management purposes. After her
work at UofSC she has taken a position with Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Mahmut A. A. Aslani, Faculty Affiliate
Mahmut Aslani earned his Ph.D. in Nuclear Technology from Ege University, on the thorium
sorption by using silk fibroin and utilization in low level radioactive waste. He
earned his MSc and BSc degrees from Institute of Nuclear Science and Chemistry department
of Faculty of Science, respectively, at Ege University. He has experience using gamma
radiation spectroscopy, alpha spectroscopy, UV-visible spectrophotometry, and emission
spectroscopy. He has also experience on separation and purification of uranium, thorium,
strontium and lanthanum using Column Chromatography, HPLC and ion exchange techniques.
Recently he focused on synthesis of phosphors materials for thermoluminescence applications
and also estimating their thermodynamic properties by molecular dynamics simulations.
Mahmut is now research staff at New Mexico State University.
Mallikharjuna R. Bogala, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Bogala received M.S. degrees in both Metallurgy and Analytical Chemistry from
the University of Alabama in 2015 and 2009, respectively, and his doctoral degree
in Materials Science in 2016. These followed his obtaining a M.Tech. degree in Modern
Methods of Chemical Analysis from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi in 2004
after a five-year Integrated M.Sc. in Chemistry from Pondicherry University in 2002.
Bogala’s research interests include synthesis of high-temperature materials by sintering
and arc-melting techniques, carrying out mechanical, thermochemical and thermophysical
property measurements using cracking/rupture tests, TGA/DSC, XRD, and SEM/TEM microanalysis,
and CALPHAD assessments of the thermochemistry and phase equilibria of materials systems.
Matthew Christian, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Matthew earned his PhD in Chemistry from Dalhousie University in 2018, where he developed
surface-chemistry models using dispersion corrected density functional theory (DFT).
Matthew also has a M.S. in chemistry from Virginia Tech and a B.S. in Chemistry from
the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research had been focused on modeling
complex uranium-containing molten and crystalline salts using both DFT and thermochemical
models. He is now at Sandia National Laboratories continuing his work on these types
Kyle R. Foster, M.S. Student
Kyle obtained his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 2019 and immediately
began to pursue a Master of Science in the same field from the University of South
Carolina. Nuclear fuel systems gained his interest during his undergraduate degree
and led him to seek research within the field. His research concentrated on computationally
modeling the behavior of nuclear fuels for use in reactor simulation codes. Kyle completed
an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and is now working at steam supply engineering
firm in Charlotte, NC.
Kaitlin E. Johnson, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Kaitlin Johnson received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of
California, Davis, previously obtaining her M.S. there and her B.S.E. in Chemical
Engineering from Arizona State University. Her current research focus is on the production
and characterization of sol-gel materials and the encapsulation of biomolecules in
such materials for the development of biosensors and energy and fuel production. Her
research at UofSC involved experimental determination of phase equilibria in simulated
uranium silicide nuclear fuel with fission product elements. She derived complex thermochemical
models for these systems that allow prediction of in-reactor behavior. Her other activities
have been in modeling molten salt nuclear fuel systems from both extant information
and her DSC measurements. After completing her work at UofSC Johnson took a position
as a post-doctoral fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and has subsequently moved
from there to work at Kairos Power, LLC.
Vancho Kocevski, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Kocevski earned his Ph.D. in Solid State Physics at Uppsala University, Sweden, in
2015, before working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Materials Science and Engineering
Department at Northwestern University for two years. His research interests include
thermodynamic modeling of materials, electron microscopy, and developing and utilizing
methodologies for materials discovery and design. He has experience using computational
materials approaches such as density functional theory, ab-initio and classical molecular
dynamics, and the multislice method. Dr. Kocevski is currently working at the Los
Alamos National Laboratory.
Denise Adorno Lopes, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Denise has a bachelor in physics, earned a master's and Ph.D. degree in metallurgical
and materials engineering from São Paulo University. She worked for five years at
the Brazilian Navy Technological Center, where she performed research on fabricating,
characterising and testing properties of U-Mo and U-Nb-Zr alloys for nuclear fuel
plate concept. Before coming to UofSC she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Reactor
Physics Department of Royal Institute of Technology – KTH in Sweden, where she conducted
integrated modeling and experimental work on UN and U3Si2, including ab initio calculations
and thermophysical measurements. Dr. Lopes is currently on staff at Westinghouse Electric
Emily Moore, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Emily earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the École Polytechnique for her research at the
Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA-Saclay). Her
undergraduate and masters studies were completed at the University of Arizona, with
Bachelor degrees in chemistry and German studies, and a Master degree in Material
Science and Engineering. Her research focus includes chemical thermodynamics and materials
properties of nuclear fuel and fission products, with competencies in thermos-kinetic
modelling using CALPHAD methods and molecular dynamic simulations. Dr. Moore is currently
research staff at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Mark J. Noordhoek, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Noordhoek earned his bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering from the
University of Michigan in 2009 before going on to earn his Ph.D in the same area from
the University of Florida in 2014. His research interests include thermodynamic modeling
of materials, crystallography and methodologies for materials discovery and design.
He has computational materials science experience using first-principles (density
functional theory), classical molecular dynamics and the CALPHAD method.
Tashiema Ulrich (Wilson), Ph.D. Student
Tashiema Ulrich (formerly Wilson) earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the
University of West Florida in 2015. She holds a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Fellowship
which is supporting her pursuit of a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the university.
She worked on the thermochemistry of advanced nuclear fuels for clean power generation,
investigating the properties and behavior of uranium silicide-nitride fuels using
both experimental and computational methods. Her work was part of a project joint
with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ulrich graduated
with a Ph.D. om Nuclear Engineering in December of 2019, accepting a position as a
post-doctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She has subsequently moved
on to now hold a staff position at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Stephen Utlak, Ph.D. Student
Stephen Utlak obtained a B.S. degree in Bioengineering at Clemson University and an
M.E. degree in Nuclear Engineering at the University of South Carolina in 2011 and
2013, respectively. Upon graduating from UofSC, he accepted a position with Savannah
River Remediation, the liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS). In
2015, he took leave from SRS to work toward a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at UofSC.
His research project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of River
Protection, with an objective to thermochemically model the high-level waste glass
expected to be produced at the Hanford Site with the goal of characterizing nepheline
precipitation equilibrium behavior. Utlak graduated with a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering
in June 2019 and is currently working at the Savannah River Site.
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