FY 23 Research Funding Highlights

Oregon State University’s College of Engineering is the nation’s seventh-largest engineering college and a proven leader in research, with impacts that extend statewide, regionally, nationally, and globally. Research conducted here expands knowledge and creates use-inspired solutions in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, clean water, materials science, sustainable energy, high-performance computing, resilient infrastructure, and health-related engineering.

Student shows materials matter, even at the smallest level

Photos courtesy of Tzu-Yi Chang.

Tzu-Yi Chang, a doctoral student in nuclear engineering at Oregon State who spends her summers conducting research at the Idaho National Laboratory, has been fascinated by how things function ever since she was a child.

“I started my engineering education when I was young, since my father was a technician,” Chang said. “I watched him work when I was as young as 4 or 5 years old and learned about machines.”

Alexander Chemey

At Oregon State since 2019, he/him/his pronouns.

Alexander “Sasha” Chemey has a wide range of interests in nuclear science and technologies. The “Alchemey Lab” focuses on the interface of nuclear chemistry, physics, and engineering, addressing generational challenges in power production, radioactive waste storage, and production of valuable isotopes. His work makes use of the Oregon State TRIGA Reactor (OSTR) to probe fundamental nuclear phenomena.

Great Foundations for Success


Even before he graduated from high school, Bill Nicholson (’80 B.S., Nuclear Engineering) knew he wanted to make a difference for future generations. The Portland native had always been interested in the clean energy field, and, at the time, solar and nuclear power were the two most promising technologies.

Beck awarded DOE fellowship

Peter Beck, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, has been awarded a three-year fellowship through the United States Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program.

Beck received one of just 33 graduate fellowships for students pursuing nuclear energy-related disciplines.

“This funding will allow me to continue my studies and pursue the technology to make nuclear energy safer, more efficient and less environmentally impactful than ever before,” said Beck.

Learner to Leader

Izabela Gutowska holds a mock fuel sphere used in simulated testing to support validation of Kairos Power’s pebblebed fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactor design.

Izabela Gutowska swirls the tea in her cup as she discusses computational fluid dynamics. The movement of the tea cools the liquid by transferring heat to the cup, she explains.

Crash-testing nuclear fuels to make them safer

Dan Wachs at Idaho National Laboratory's Transient Reactor Test Facility in 2018. 
Photo by Chris Morgan, courtesy of Idaho National Laboratory.

On Nov. 14, 2017, the Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT) at the 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory site jumped to life for the first time in 23 years. In the run-up to that moment, technicians and engineers in the Cold War-era control room, a half-mile from the reactor itself, nudged the core until the fission reaction became self-sustaining. 

Cheap detectors keep the peace

Associate professor Abi Farsoni, left, and graduate student Steven Czyz discuss a prototype device for detecting radioxenon signals that can indicate the occurrence of a nuclear weapon test.

In September 2017, a series of earth-rippling shivers caught the attention of scientists around the globe. At first blush, the seismic activity suggested an earthquake with an approximate magnitude of 6.0. Then, as the source of the vibrations became clear, government agencies and heads of state began to take close notice.