Graduate Student Receives Prestigious DOE Fellowship

September 22, 2014

Graduate Student Receives Prestigious DOE Fellowship

Civil engineering graduate student Melissa Mills recently received a prestigious Department of Energy Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to only 33 graduate students across the country each year to help cover graduate research and studies that are relevant to the DOE- Nuclear Energy’s mission.

Melissa Mills wins DOE Fellowship

The award allots $50,000 annually for the next three years to cover tuition, fees, books, a monthly stipend, and research travel. She learned about the fellowship opportunity from her manager while interning at Sandia National Labs in the Nuclear Waste Disposal Research and Analysis organization. Melissa is planning to obtain her Master’s degree in civil engineering with a concentration in geotechnical engineering under the advisement of Professor John Stormont.

Mills’  research will be directed toward the possible disposal of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in deep geologic salt formations. After waste has been placed within these formations, granular salt is likely to be used as a key element of seal systems to completely encase and isolate the waste.

The research will be geared towards better understanding the coupled thermal-mechanical-hydrological behavior of consolidating granular salt. Granular salt consolidation will be investigated through an integrated program of laboratory measurements, microscopic observations, and the development and evaluation of a constitutive model.