Program Overview

The Nuclear Engineering Doctoral Fellowship Program at UNLV is aimed to develop a new cadre of nuclear experts with advanced degrees to meet the needs of the United States for decades to come. This program is funded by the US Nuclear Regulatory commission (NRC), and Fellowships are available to students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering (Nuclear Engineering option) at UNLV. The Fellowship program invites doctoral students to concentrate in one of the three areas listed below that complement the experience of the faculty and the research interests of the NRC:

Thermal Hydraulics and Nuclear Safety

UNLV students and faculty have worked on the modeling of fluid flow and heat transfer in molten salts used for energy storage. This experience will be extended to the prevention of radiation releases from molten salt and liquid metal reactor designs. We have also worked on damage to ZrC fuel plating in nuclear fission reactors that can be applied to novel GCFR designs. The UNLV team worked on criticality assessments, computational modeling, and experimental fluid flow related to the safe storage of high-level nuclear waste.

Emergency Preparedness and Monitoring of Radiation Releases

UNLV students and faculty have worked on the computational modeling of radiation releases to correlate data from radiation sensors mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). We have flown UAVs with gamma detectors and continue to develop MCNP-based models of ground-level radioactive contamination. New Fellowship students would be encouraged to complete a dissertation dedicated to the modeling of radiation exposure, atmospheric dispersal, or dose with an emphasis on the detection of data from UAVs with the goal of increasing public safety.

Analysis of New Reactor Designs

UNLV has experience working with molten salt reactors and liquid metal cooled fast reactors. A current Fellowship student is working on heat pipe modeling for heat removal from reactors and the safety consequence of heat pipe failure. We are using high-temperature furnaces to measure thermal properties of molten salts and investigate corrosion effects on mild and stainless steels at high temperatures. Faculty members are working with students on fast reactor designs, including safety aspects and accident analysis using a multiphysics modeling of reactor neutronics coupled with heat transfer.

Benefits Of The Fellowship Program

This Fellowship includes tuition cost at the level of full-time graduate research assistant and health benefits, travel to a professional conference, and a stipend. As an example, the stipend amount for the 2022-23 year is $32,308.

Fellowship Requirements

The following conditions must be fulfilled to receive/maintain a Fellowship:

  • Be a United States citizen or noncitizen nationals of the United States, or have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
  • Be classified as a full-time student during all semesters and remain matriculated in the Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering (Nuclear Engineering option) at UNLV.
  • Maintain a GPA of 3.3 or higher on a 4.0 scale over all academic terms.
  • Sign the mandatory service agreement with NRC.
  • Serve six months in nuclear-related employment for each full or partial year of academic support. The employment may be with NRC, other Federal agencies, State agencies, DOE laboratories, nuclear-related industry, or academia.

Application Process

Only students admitted to the UNLV Ph.D. Program in Mechanical Engineering (Nuclear Engineering option) are eligible to receive the Fellowship. The application process for the Nuclear Engineering Fellowship is separate from the process of application to UNLV graduate programs. For information on applying to the UNLV graduate programs, visit the Graduate College website.

After receiving graduate admission to UNLV, applicants should send an email to with the following documents:

  • Application letter describing professional background and goals, and an indication of willingness to fulfill the Fellowship requirements (listed above).
  • Tentative proof of U.S. citizenship.
  • Three letters of recommendation.

For more information about the Fellowship program and research opportunities, contact Professor Alexander Barzilov at To view an example of a project, visit the Nuclear Security Science and Technology Consortium (NSSTC) page.