Nuclear Science User Facilities 22 Matt Swenson The NSUF enables researcher journey from Boise State University student to University of Idaho Assistant Professor RESEARCHER PROFILES For a textbook case of how the Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF) is supposed to work, one might not need look further than Matthew Swenson, who defended his doctoral dissertation in May 2017 and is headed to the University of Idaho in the fall to be an assistant professor in mechanical engineering. “The NSUF has been the complete enabler of all my research,” he said. After graduating from Oregon State University, Swenson spent 14 years in the heavy equipment industry as an engineering manager and platform leader. “All along I knew I was interested in graduate studies and obtaining an advanced degree,” he said. When he enrolled in Boise State University’s (BSU) materials science and engineering program in 2013, he found a mentor in Dr. Janelle Wharry, whose focus was on irradiation experiments and introduced him to nuclear materials. BSU is a member of the consortium that forms the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, where the NSUF has its offices. Over three years, Swenson estimated he made the 570 mile round-trip between Boise and Idaho Falls between 25 and 30 times. Swenson joined Wharry’s group at BSU in June 2013. One of the first things she had him do was attend the NSUF Users Week in Idaho Falls. “I think, in hindsight, it was a really good thing for him,” she said. “He was exposed to all the research that was going on in the nuclear materials world and got to meet other students and learn what they were doing.” Not only did it give him a full picture of the research, “It gave me an orientation on how the process works, how proposals were to be written,” Swenson said. His research has focused on radiation resistance of iron based steel alloys containing nanoparticles, used as cladding and structural components in nuclear reactors, optimizing the microstructures to improve their durability under irradiation. More particularly, he has been developing lab experiments that use charged particles to emulate what is happening in nuclear reactors. Experiments with charged particles can be done in days rather than months, and the materials are not radioactive at the end of the experiment.