UH Mānoa researchers advance nuclear nonproliferation and education

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Daniel Meisenzahl, (808) 348-4936
Spokesman, UH Communications
Posted: Feb 28, 2019

The NuLat (short for Neutrino Lattice) detector is used in the WATCHMAN project. Credit: John Learne
The NuLat (short for Neutrino Lattice) detector is used in the WATCHMAN project. Credit: John Learne
Scientists working on the NuLat detector. Credit: John Learned
Scientists working on the NuLat detector. Credit: John Learned

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa researchers will receive federal funding to develop and demonstrate new technologies that advance nuclear nonproliferation. As members of two new university consortia on the cutting edge of nuclear nonproliferation efforts, scientists from the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and the College of Natural Sciences, have been awarded $3.2 million from the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) during the five-year projects.

The consortia will also help build the nuclear security workforce, with participating postdoctoral fellows and graduate students partaking in research and internships at National Laboratories. Efforts throughout the consortia will link basic research at universities with the capabilities of the National Laboratories to advance nuclear science and security goals.

“These grants will foster development of concepts and technologies that keep the United States at the forefront of nuclear monitoring and verification capabilities and allow us to nurture tomorrow’s nonproliferation experts,” said Brent K. Park, NNSA’s deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation.

The Consortium for Monitoring, Technology and Verification (MTV), led by the University of Michigan, brings together 14 universities and 13 national laboratories to demonstrate new ways to monitor, detect and identify violations of nuclear treaties. At UH Mānoa, Milton Garces, researcher in SOEST’s Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), is the MTV principal investigator and team leader for monitoring physics. UH Mānoa Earth sciences associate professor Henrietta Dulai and physics professor John Learned are co-investigators.

The second consortium, Enabling Technologies and Innovation (ETI), led by the Georgia Institute of Technology, consists of a cohort of 12 universities and 10 national laboratories that will focus on computer and engineering science research in machine learning, advanced manufacturing and disruptive detection technologies for nonproliferation. In his role as ETI outreach director for technology, Garces will also facilitate cross-cutting research between the labs and universities and help assess the practicality and transferability of university research.

“These are excellent opportunities to initiate and extend scientific collaborations as well as help train a new generation of scientists and technicians that can help us build a better, safer world,” said Garces. “The false missile alert of January 2018 was a stark reminder of Hawai‘i’s vulnerability on the Western front. Our mission is to help build, demonstrate, transfer and support technology and know-how that can prevent that scenario from actually happening.”

“Our participation in two of the winning consortia provides more national recognition of the superb research capability at UH Mānoa,” said UH President David Lassner. “This is a great example of how our faculty are working every day to make the world safer for all of us.”

For more on the consortia projects, read the UH News story.