The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced the 2,000 recipients of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award. From more than 12,000 applicants, one of our NE senior undergraduate students, Benjamin Dacus, was among the awardees.
Ben grew up in Lenoir, North Carolina and began his career at NCSU in the fall of 2014. He has been fascinated with the field of nuclear engineering and material science since his first introductory physics class. “I was captivated by these fields of study, not only because they taught me about the scientific process through an extremely intriguing natural phenomenon (radiation), but also increased my knowledge in such a manner that I could contribute to the overall understanding of materials.”
Throughout his undergraduate tenure, Ben sought various research opportunities including a stint in the Asphalt Materials and Technologies Lab, working for Dr. Jacob Eapen for two years, and an internship at Idaho National Laboratory. During the internship, Ben was able to assist in writing a scientific paper, which is currently in review with the Journal of Nuclear Materials. Ben has also been actively involved in extracurricular activities including the Climate Reality Project Campus Corps, a tutor in various STEM fields, and spending a summer studying abroad in London.
“Receiving the NSF GRFP award is an enormous honor. I have always been interested in nuclear materials research, and receiving the fellowship gives me assurance that I am qualified to pursue this track next year in graduate school,” says Ben. “I look forward to the freedom that the award offers and I plan to explore research with both computational and experimental methods.” Ben plans to earn his PhD in Nuclear Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and study with Dr. Michael Short. His projects at MIT will involve either the non-contact, non-destructive measurement of irradiated material properties using transient grating spectroscopy (TGS) or the quantification of radiation damage by stored energy fingerprints.
Ben will graduate summa cum laude with his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering in May.