Meet Shen Zhang

Shen Zhang
Shen Zhang







Shen Zhang, in the Nuclear Engineering Department at NCSU, has been named as an AFCI fellow by the Department of Energy along with seven other graduate students from across the country. The fellowships are valued at up to $42,500 per student and the DOE will award up to $340,000 in total to encourage research into closing the nuclear fuel cycle and recycling components of used nuclear fuel.

Zhang grew up in Raleigh and has been able to experience the best of both worlds with the freedom of college combined with the comforts of nearby family. His studies have evolved during his time at NCSU with a switch from Computer Science to Nuclear Engineering. He had hoped to gain a “unique experience that blended real world applications, physics, and programming.” Zhang was delighted to report that he had certainly found this “along with mathematics – a lot of mathematics.”

Zhang’s specific area of study is “the use of ab-initio molecular dynamics” which will “be deployed for atomistic simulations…” in order to “take advantage of quantum-mechanical effects within atoms that would otherwise not be captured by classical simulation methods.” He hopes that this work will strengthen communal knowledge of advanced nuclear fuel materials and serve as useful information for engineering and designing advanced reactors down the road. He gives credit to the Nuclear Engineering Department for both informing him of the fellowship opportunity and encouraging him to apply.

Previous AFCI fellows have praised the flexibility of the program which allowed them to do their own research and provided the opportunity to do research at National Labs. Zhang is looking forward to the orientation trip in August to the Department of Energy Headquarters in DC and expects it will be a “rich and rewarding experience.”