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ISU students take home three awards from American Nuclear Society Student Conference

May 4, 2017
By Kirsten Cooper, MarCom CPI

Picture of  Brycen Wendt, advisor Mary Lou Dunzik-Gregor,and Antonio Tahhan with their awards.
From left, Brycen Wendt, advisor Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar,and Antonio Tahhan with their awards.

POCATELLO – Idaho State University nuclear science and engineering graduate students Brycen Wendt and Antonio Tahhan were recently given top honors for presenting papers at the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Student Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

ISU students took home three awards at the conference held in April, being surpassed only by the University of Illinois at Urbana.

Wendt won first place in the Best Overall Research category for his work on functional expansion tallies in addition to a Best-in-Track Award in the mathematics and computation category.

Tahhan won a Best-in-Track Award in the nuclear installations safety category.

Wendt, who has attended four of the seven most recent ANS student conferences, said this year’s conference is at the top of his list.

“The technical content was excellent, the presenters well-prepared, and everyone came with a sense of professionalism while also managing to remain light, fun, and engaged,” he said.

Wendt said that assistance from his advisor, Research Assistant Professor Leslie Kerby, and extensive review of his slides by College of Science and Engineering Associate Dean Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, helped him prepare and deliver his presentation.

“I find the research I am performing to be worthwhile, challenging and captivating,” Wendt said. “This alone made it very exciting to stand up in front of my peers and demonstrate all the absolutely cool stuff I was working on.”

He also said that a number of excellent questions from the audience helped him delve deeper into some of the aspects of his research. Although he felt a sense of relief when he went back to his seat, he felt satisfied that he had done his best, presented the material thoroughly, and represented ISU well.

“You can imagine my immense surprise when, at the awards dinner, I was called up to the podium twice,” Wendt said. “The first award, titled ‘Best Overall Research,’ recognized the importance of the work we are doing right here at ISU. The second award, ‘Best in Mathematics and Computation,’ recognized the quality of the presentation, including technical content, delivery, and quality.”

“The entire ISU group was also thrilled to have our current ANS Treasurer, Antonio Tahhan, receive a ‘Best in Nuclear Installations Safety’ award for his presentation, as well,” Wendt continued. “All in all, ISU was very well-represented at the conference.”

The topic of this year’s ANS Student Conference was “Dispelling Nuclear Myths.” Although nuclear power is among the safest, most affordable, and most environmentally friendly sources of energy, a stigma surrounds the industry, according to the AMS website. By teaching the next generation of nuclear engineers how to eliminate the misconceptions surrounding the industry, the ANS Student Conference hopes to further develop the image of nuclear power.

For more information about the ANS Student Conference, contact Miriam Dance at dancmiri@isu.edu or (208) 282-4361.