John Mattingly

Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering, CNEC PI & Chief Scientist

  • 919-515-0224
  • Research Building II 216B
  • Visit My Website

I lead the RADIANS research team, which consists of about 10 graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral scholars.  All our projects apply modeling and simulation to analyze nuclear radiation measurements for nuclear security applications, including arms control, safeguards, nonproliferation, counterterrorism, emergency response, and forensics. Our team’s website,, provides a compehensive overview of our research activities.

Before joining the NCSU NE faculty, I worked for 15 years at two national laboratories, Oak Ridge and Sandia. I conducted experiments with Category I (weapons-usable) special nuclear material (SNM), nuclear weapons components, and fully-assembled nuclear weapons at nearly all of the facilities in the US Nuclear Weapons Complex, and at international facilities including UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) facilities in Aldermaston and Burghfield, UK, Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique (CEA) Valduc facility, and the Russian Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF) facility in Sarov, Russia.

At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, my colleagues and I developed measurement systems and analysis methods for active neutron interrogation of special nuclear material (SNM) for nuclear materials control and accountability (NMC&A), safeguards, arms control, and nonproliferation applications.  Our research, which we conducted jointly with VNIIEF, focused on developing active neutron interrogation methods that employed time-correlation signatures using fast organic scintillators.  The principal objective was to estimate bulk SNM properties like fissile mass and multiplication to enable monitoring and surveillance of SNM production, use, storage, movement, and disposition activities to help foster transparency in NMC&A, safeguards, arms control, and nonproliferation.

At Sandia National Laboratories, I became one of the two lead developers of GADRAS, the Gamma Detector Response Analysis Software.  My principal research activities included developing the deterministic radiation transport engine in GADRAS and creating inverse radiation transport methods to simultaneously analyze gamma spectroscopy and neutron multiplicity counting measurements.  At Sandia, I also conducted experiments at several US and international facilities.  The principal objective was again to estimate a wide variety of SNM properties, like isotopic composition, geometric configuration, fissile mass, and multiplication to support nuclear nonproliferation, counterterrorism, and emergency response applications.

At Sandia, I also served as a 24/7 on-call analyst for the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  I learned how to rapidly analyze gamma spectroscopy and neutron multiplicity measurements to assess the potential threat posed by a radiation source discovered in the stream of commerce and other settings.  That particular job helped me hone my skills as a radiation analyst.  More importantly, it made me recognize that the ability to develop and use tools to rapidly analyze radiation measurements is crucial to the future of international nuclear security, and that we need to develop a program to train new professionals in those essential skills.


Ph.D. 1998

Nuclear Engineering

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

M.S. 1995

Nuclear Engineering

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

B.S. 1992

Nuclear Engineering

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Research Description

The students in my research group and I conduct applied research in radiation measurement and analysis methods for nuclear security applications, including arms control, safeguards, nonproliferation, counterterrorism, emergency response and forensics. Visit our team's website,, for a comprehensive overview of our work. These applications address the full spectrum of problems facing international nuclear security, from helping sovereign nations transparently monitor and control SNM production, use, storage, movement, and disposition to deterring the use of those materials in weapons, including state-sponsored weapons and improvised nuclear devices (INDs) and radiological dispersion devices (RDDs) devised by would-be nuclear terrorists. In other words, I’m interested in developing technologies that help maintain openness and security across the entire lifecycle of nuclear materials, in order to enable the continuing development of peaceful applications of nuclear materials while safeguarding against their surreptitious or open use for war or terrorism. I need the help of students and post-docs with skill or interest in the following areas: Gamma spectroscopy measurement systems Neutron multiplicity and fast time-correlation measurement systems Neutron and gamma radiation imaging systems Advanced digital signal processing techniques for radiation detector data acquisition and analysis Coupled neutron and gamma radiation transport models, including stochastic and deterministic models I invite students and postdoctoral scholars with skill and interest in experimentation and analytical programming for nuclear security applications to contact me.


Bayesian Metropolis methods for source localization in an urban environment
Hite, J., & Mattingly, J. (2019), In RADIATION PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY (Vol. 155, pp. 271–274).
Localization of a radioactive source in an urban environment using Bayesian Metropolis methods
Automated Defect Detection in Spent Nuclear Fuel Using Combined Cerenkov Radiation and Gamma Emission Tomography Data
Brayfindley, E., Smith, R. C., Mattingly, J., & Brigantic, R. (2018), NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, 204(3), 343–353.
Frequency domain multiplexing of pulse mode radiation detectors
Model-based design evaluation of a compact, high-efficiency neutron scatter camera
Weinfurther, K., Mattingly, J., Brubaker, E., & Steele, J. (2018), Nuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research. Section A, Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors, and Associated Equipment, 883, 115–135.
Hybrid optimization and Bayesian inference techniques for a non-smooth radiation detection problem
Stefanescu, R., Schmidt, K., Hite, J., Smith, R. C., & Mattingly, J. (2017), International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 111(10), 955–982.
Sensitivity analysis of neutron multiplicity counting statistics using first-order perturbation theory and application to a subcritical plutonium metal benchmark
O’Brien, S., Mattingly, J., & Anistratov, D. (2017), Nuclear Science and Engineering, 185(3), 406–425.
Bayesian metropolis methods applied to sensor networks for radiation source localization
Hite, J. M., Mattingly, J. K., Schmidt, K. L., Stelanescu, R., & Smith, R. (2016), (pp. 389–393).
Using anisotropies in prompt fission neutron coincidences to assess the neutron multiplication of highly multiplying subcritical plutonium assemblies
Mueller, J. M., & Mattingly, J. (2016), Nuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research. Section A, Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors, and Associated Equipment, 825, 87–92.
Computational evaluation of neutron multiplicity measurements of polyethylene-reflected plutonium metal
Miller, E. C., Mattingly, J. K., Clarke, S. D., Solomon, C. J., Dennis, B., Meldrum, A., & Pozzi, S. A. (2014), Nuclear Science and Engineering, 176(2), 167–185.

View all publications via NC State Libraries


Single-Volume Scatter Camera Development
National Nuclear Security Administration(12/06/17 - 9/30/19)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Nuclear Safeguards Workshop
US Dept. of Energy (DOE)(2/22/17 - 9/30/17)
Characterization of Organic Scintillator Response to Fast Neutrons for Detection and Identification of Special Nuclear Material
University Global Partnership Network (UGPN)(7/01/15 - 5/31/16)
Design, Evaluation, and Testing of a High-Efficiency Single-Volume Neutron Scatter Camera
Sandia National Laboratories(1/30/14 - 9/30/16)
Proposal for a Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities
US Dept. of Energy (DOE)(7/31/14 - 7/30/19)
Consortium for Verification Technology
US Dept. of Energy (DOE)(9/01/14 - 8/31/19)
XSEDE Startup Account Application: Development of an Inverse Radiation Transport Modeler's Toolkit
National Science Foundation (NSF)(7/01/13 - 6/30/14)
Fission Physics Parameter Estimation and Uncertainty Quantification
National Science Foundation (NSF)(7/01/13 - 6/30/14)
Development of a new Course on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Safeguards
US Dept. of Energy (DOE)(2/22/13 - 6/30/16)
Development of High-Speed Monte Carlo Simulations of Radiation Sensors to Mixed Neutron-Gamma Fields
National Nuclear Security Administration(1/09/13 - 9/30/13)