Nuclear Engineering with Dr. Katy Huff


June 24th, 2017

38 mins 15 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode


Access to affordable and consistent electricity is one of the big challenges facing our modern society. Nuclear energy is one answer because of its reliable output and carbon-free operation. To make this energy accessible to a larger portion of the global population further reasearch and innovation in reactor design and fuel sources is necessary, and that is where Python can help. This week Dr. Katy Huff talks about the research that she is doing, the problems facing the nuclear industry, and how she uses Python to make it happen.


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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Dr. Katy Huff about using Python for nuclear engineering


  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by explaining what nuclear engineering is and give some examples of current research in the field?
  • The most widely used and recognized form of nuclear plant is the light water reactor, which, to my understanding, is also the most susceptible to melt-downs and release of radioactive material carried by escaped steam. What are some of the reactor types that are currently being researched to improve safety and efficiency?
  • One of the major policy and logistics issues regarding nuclear power plants is the problem of how to handle spent fuel rods. What are some of the methods that are being researched to solve this problem?
  • In your PyCon presentation you mentioned the Cyclus and PyNE projects as tools that you use in your research. Can you provide a brief overview of each and explain how you use them?
  • What are some of the most pressing issues in nuclear engineering and how are you leveraging Python to help with addressing them?
  • How does open source software relate to open science, and how do they impact the impact the ways that research is performed?
  • What are some of the current or future developments in nuclear engineering that you are most excited about?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA