Open UROP Positions (13)

Challenging research opportunities exist for undergraduates of all levels in Course 22, especially for freshmen, through MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Join our faculty, students, and staff on cutting-edge research projects for credit or pay, and get hands-on experience on the research that the NSE department has to offer. Our UROPs are all NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED unless stated otherwise.

You are encouraged to browse the research sections of the NSE website to learn more about the areas of research that Department faculty are engaged in. Undergraduate research opportunities may not always be listed with MIT's UROP Office. Heather Barry in the NSE Undergraduate Program Office and Prof. Matteo Bucci, NSE's UROP Coordinator, will help you find a UROP in Course 22.

Check out our Open UROP Positions to start your research career in Course 22 today!

Analysis of the microscopic structure and dynamics of molten salts for energy applications

Contact: Dr. Boris Khaykovich
Posting Date: 2021-04-05

UROP Description: Molten salts are fascinating liquids, which are important for many applications, such as nuclear and solar energy, and chemical engineering. Dr. Boris Khaykovich and his group are studying the microscopic structure of molten salts using neutron and X-ray scattering measurements and computer simulations. The student project is a part of this effort. The student will analyze the data from neutron and X-ray scattering experiments. The data has been recently collected by Dr. Khaykovich and collaborators. The raw data from experiments have to be properly normalized, filtered, and plotted for comparison with simulations. Different techniques (X-rays vs neutrons, elastic vs inelastic scattering) require different data analysis software and different approaches to the analysis. Proficiency with Python (or Matlab) and interest in nuclear science and engineering, materials, or chemical engineering are required. This project is suitable for being done either on campus or remotely provided a student is comfortable with working largely independently while relying on limited if regular communications using Skype or Zoom.

Project supervision: Dr. Gordon Kohse and Dr. Boris Khaykovich (

Design of a neutron diffractometer at the MIT Nuclear Reactor

Contact: Dr. Boris Khaykovich
Posting Date: 2021-04-05

UROP Description: There is an opportunity to host a novel neutron diffractometer at the MIT Nuclear Reactor. Neutron scattering is a powerful set of techniques for studying the structure and dynamics of matter but only a few neutron facilities exist that are in very high demand. Therefore, we at the MIT Reactor are planning for a new neutron diffractometer for small-angle scattering (SANS). SANS is an extremely popular technique for studying especially polymers and complex fluids, but also ceramics, metal alloys, and magnets. The student will assist with a preliminary design by conducting ray-tracing simulations of the diffractometer and conducting virtual experiments to optimize and predict the performance. As such, this project will allow a UROP student hands-on experience with computer simulations of geometrical optics, and collecting and analyzing the performance data. Academically, the students will learn fundamental concepts in geometrical optics, neutron physics, and materials science.

We anticipate that a student will spend about 40 hours a week during the summer semester. The first couple of weeks will be spent studying the theory behind the instrument and setting up ray-tracing software. The rest of the summer will be spent simulating the instrument and analyzing results.

The project is open to any undergraduate student, on or off-campus, with sufficient interest in designing a new instrument and background in physics, nuclear, materials, or chemical engineering.

Project supervision: Dr. Gordon Kohse and Dr. Boris Khaykovich (

Breakdown the Cost of Advanced Nuclear Reactors

Contact: Prof. Koroush Shirvan
Posting Date: 2021-04-05

Gen IV Advanced Reactor Technologies

UROP Description: We are developing an open-source cost estimation tool for nuclear technologies. The software is being developed in PYTHON [REF] and we are looking for a UROP to expand its technology choices. Advanced Gen IV nuclear fission reactors have been under development for quite some time. There is a strong renewed interest in deployment of these technologies in the US and abroad. However, it is unclear how much will these new generation of technologies cost with only Russia and China having limited success. The work will focus on gathering material input and cost data for different advanced technologies. When data is not available, good engineering judgment will be employed for best estimation and scaling as well as deciding the associated uncertainties. The data of interest includes size of buildings, amount of steel and concrete, number of heat exchangers, cost of nuclear fuel and its containing structures, etc.

Scope of Work
MIT students from all majors and all years are welcome to apply. Basic programming in PYTHON is preferred. Direct funding is available for this UROP.

For more info, please contact Prof. Shirvan at

Be Part of the Machine Learning-based Neuroevolution Optimization Framework

Contact: Prof. Koroush Shirvan
Posting Date: 2021-01-31

Interaction of Evolutionary Algorithms and Neural Networks in an Engineering Environment

UROP Description: UROP Description: This project will develop a general Python framework for engineering optimization via advanced hybrid algorithms of machine learning neural networks and natural evolutionary algorithms. The framework will be applied over a wide range of engineering applications from nuclear reactor design, to mechanical problems, to renewable energy sources. We will explore the framework performance through its ability in finding optimal solutions, computing time, parallel multiprocessing, user-friendly capabilities, and other related computational issues.

Scope of Work
MIT students from all majors and all years are welcome to apply. Basic programming and knowledge of mathematical modeling are preferred. Direct funding is available for this UROP.

The student will participate in: * Identifying and developing engineering examples that can be used for real-world demonstration. * Examining different objective/fitness function forms to ensure optimal search. * Application of the framework on the identified problems through writing Python scripts and perform benchmarking and comparisons of different algorithms (Genetic algorithms, Deep Q Learning, Differential evolution, etc.) The student is expected to gain knowledge in computational science, engineering physics, and optimization research.

Info For more info, please contact Dr. Radaideh at and Prof. Shirvan at

Nuclear Batteries: a New Form of Clean and Resilient Energy System for Urban Environments

Contact: Prof. Jacopo Buongiorno
Posting Date: 2020-08-14

Cutaway rendering of a Nuclear Battery concept design

UROP Description: This project will study the techno-economic and regulatory feasibility of deploying a micro-grid powered by nuclear batteries (small nuclear reactors), to provide clean, reliable and affordable electricity, heat, food, medications and transportation fuels in urban environments, particularly underserved neighborhoods in inner cities. The environmental and economic justice value of this project is very high.

We shall hire 3 UG students. MIT students from all majors and all years are welcome to apply. We have secured funding to pay the students on this project.

Scope of Work
The team of students and faculty will:
* identify example locations in the Boston metropolitan area where NB-powered micro-grids could physically be deployed;
* examine the economic feasibility of the micro-grid, i.e., quantify cost targets to replace conventionally produced goods and services with NB-produced goods and services;
* examine the regulatory feasibility of the micro-grid, i.e., nuclear regulations to deploy NBs in an urban setting, as well as environmental and urban constraints associated with in-city production activities; * engage community leaders and businesses to evaluate the attractiveness of the micro-grid model.
The main deliverable for this project is a final report describing the activities and commenting on the feasibility of the NB-powered micro-grid concept for urban setting.

Students working on this project will be supervised by Prof. Jacopo Buongiorno (NSE) and Dr. John Parsons (Sloan).

(VIRTUAL) 100-Gigawatt-Hour Heat Storage for Nuclear, CSP and Fossil-Fuels with CCS

Contact: Dr. Charles Forsberg
Posting Date: 2020-04-27
UROP Description: Fossil fuels are remarkable: low-cost, easy to store and easy to transport. All of the replacement technologies (nuclear, wind, solar, fossil fuels with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)) for a low-carbon future have high capital costs. Low-cost very-large energy storage is required to enable operating these technologies at full capacity while providing variable electricity and heat to industry. The UROP is to examine ultra-low-cost heat storage using crushed rock in an insulated trench (60 m by 20 m by up to a kilometer long) where heat is transferred from the nuclear reactor, concentrated solar power (CSP) plant or fossil plant with CCS using nitrate salts with peak operating temperatures of 600°C. The salt is sprayed on top of the crushed rock to heat it. To transfer heat to the power cycle or industry, cold nitrate salt is sprayed onto the hot rock and collected by the drain pan under the rock. The hot salt is sent to the customer. The goal is a heat storage system with a capital cost of a few dollars per kWh.

Computational Reactor Physics

Contact: Prof. Ben Forget
Posting Date: 2020-01-28

Pole representation of the first resonances of U-238 (left)
and 3D full core LWR peaking factors (right)

UROP Description: The MIT Computational Reactor Physics Group (CRPG) leads the development of open source nuclear reactor modelling software. To this end, we are continuously looking for motivated undergraduate students with an interested in experimental research, with a passion for hands-on work or computer coding. The list of research areas in which you can be involved includes but is not limited to:
-DDevelopment of novel nuclear data models and uncertainties
-Model development for advanced reactor designs
-Testing and verification of advanced modelling techniques
For any additional information contact

Theoretical and computational studies of turbulence and magnetic reconnection in plasmas

Contact: Prof. Nuno Loureiro
Posting Date: 2019-12-09

Turbulent magnetic fields in a plasma (supercomputer simulation; credit: Ms. Muni Zhou).

UROP Description: Prof. Loureiro’s group carries out analytical and computational research in nonlinear plasma dynamics, with a focus on turbulence and magnetic reconnection (the explosive reconfiguration of the magnetic field topology in plasmas that leads to solar and stellar flares). Ongoing topics of research include energy dissipation and the role of reconnection in magnetized plasma turbulence; the onset of magnetic reconnection and the role played in it by a variety of plasma instabilities; advanced computational methods for plasma simulation.

Prof. Loureiro is continuously looking for motivated undergraduate students with an interest in analytical theory and computational simulations.

For any additional information, contact

Experimental heat transfer and surface engineering

Contact: The Red Lab in NSE
Posting Date: 2019-12-05

Heat Flux distribution on a surface during boiling heat transfer

UROP Description: The Red Lab in Nuclear Science and Engineering investigates advanced heat transfer solutions to empower present and future nuclear energy systems, as well as any applications where thermal management is a limiting factor, e.g., high-power density electronics. We develop and use advanced diagnostic tools to probe the physics of heat transfer at high spatial and temporal resolution (see figure: heat flux distribution on the boiling surface obtained using an infrared thermometry technique developed by The Red Lab), to improve the understanding of heat transfer processes, and to learn how to enhance them. To this end, we are continuously looking for motivated undergraduate students with an interested in experimental research, with a passion for hands-on work or computer coding. The list of research areas in which you can be involved includes but is not limited to:
- Development of experimental devices and diagnostics;
- Experimental investigations of boiling and quenching heat transfer;
- Development of surface engineering techniques to enhance heat transfer efficiency;
- Development of image analysis tools (also leveraging Machine Learning and AI).
For any additional information, contact

Gigahertz Laser Ultrasound Analysis of Fusion Reactor Materials

Contact: Ben Dacus, Prof. Mike Short
Posting Date: 2019-11-21
UROP Description: A significant problem today in the nuclear industry is how to monitor material degradation without delaying plant operation or cutting physical samples out of reactors to test. Nuclear companies have lost millions in the past from shutting down operation in order to replace/test materials. If there existed a way to characterize materials without touching them and without destroying them, it would have a huge impact on the whole industry. Luckily the answer may lie in Transient Grating Spectroscopy! This method, which has only been applied to nuclear materials over the last several years, is capable of tracking material properties as they have been exposed to radiation and high heat loads. This project will expose the student to materials research on current nuclear materials, or potential materials for advanced reactors in the design phase.

We want YOU to help us watch fusion reactor materials degrade using our TGS laser system. This UROP involves learning how to use our TGS system, and applying it to monitor material degradation during and after heating and ion irradiation. It's got lasers AND radiation, need we say more?

No prior skills needed!

Power Plant Component Monitoring and Prognostics

Contact: Prof. Michael Golay
Posting Date: 2019-11-20
UROP Description: This UROP project involves working with a graduate student in dealing with power plant component and system operational data to develop techniques for performance monitoring and prognostics. In this work risk-important components will be analyzed to identify failure modes and symptoms of their progression toward failure. These inputs to an artificial reasoning system will be used to provide assessments of failure probabilities and times to failure via different modes. The results will also be used to provide plant operators with an assessment of the net benefits of alternative actions that can be taken. This system is intended to support improved production and safety results in power plant operations.

Design and Development of User Interface for Data Management Projects

Contact: Joshua Stillerman
Posting Date: 2019-01-08
UROP Description: Modern science generates large complicated heterogeneous collections of data. In order to effectively exploit these data, researchers must be able to find relevant data, and enough of its associated metadata to understand it and put it into context. This problem exists across a wide range of research domains and is ripe for a general solution.

Existing ventures address these issues using ad-hoc purpose-built tools. These tools explicitly represent the data relationships by embedding them in their data storage mechanisms and in their applications. While producing useful tools, these approaches tend to be difficult to extend and data relationships are not necessarily traversable symmetrically.

We are building a general system for navigational metadata. The relationships between data and between annotations and data are stored as first class objects in the system. They can be viewed as instances drawn from a small set of graph types. General purpose programs can be written which allow users explore these graphs and gain insights into their data. This process of data navigation, successive inclusion and filtering of objects, provides powerful paradigm for data exploration.

The student will work on a project dealing with annotation and data relationships in science applications. Information on the project is available at

Initial commitment: 5-10 hrs / week. This could be a long term project.

Skills needed: javascript, VUEjs, basic GIT source code management, docker. The ideal candidate is a good javascript front end developer capable to work on a VUEjs based SPA.

Multiple UROP positions at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Contact: Jessica Coco (PSFC UROP coordinator)
Posting Date: 2018-02-03
UROP Description: An important part of the PSFC's activities involves training students who make valuable contributions to the research conducted at the Center. Undergraduate students have an opportunity to work closely with PSFC researchers on projects ranging from experiment design and technology development, to data analysis at all stages throughout their time at MIT, from Freshmen to Seniors. These opportunities are participate in solving the physics and engineering challenges of the future are usually coordinated through the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) or by doing a Senior Thesis in plasma science and fusion.
To learn more about UROPs at the PSFC, contact :
To find UROPs working on the SPARC project visit :
To learn more about doing a Senior Thesis with a PSFC advisor, contact: