Science and Technology for Nuclear Treaty Verification

Host: Ohanian Lecture Series

Nuclear Engineering Program Seminar Series

Thursday, November 17, 2016                 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.                NEB Room 100



Sara Pozzi

Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences

University of Michigan



Science and Technology for Nuclear Treaty Verification



Since the discovery of fission, nuclear chain reactions, and nuclear weapons, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons has become a top priority for our nation and the world. Several international treaties have been put into place to curb the expansion of nuclear capabilities. Nevertheless, there are states that may be pursuing elements of an overt or covert nuclear weapons program. New science and technology developments are needed to verify the existing or proposed treaties in this area and to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.


In this presentation, I will discuss these challenges and the recent advances in science and technology that contribute to solving them. I will present our Consortium for Verification Technology, a consortium of 12 universities and 9 national laboratories working together on these issues. I will describe our studies on the fundamental emissions from nuclear fission, and the development of new detection systems for nuclear materials detection, localization, and characterization. Finally, I will touch upon the detection and characterization of nuclear explosions, with reference to the January 6, 2016 event in North Korea.



Professor Sara Pozzi earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan, Italy in 1997 and 2001, respectively. She is Professor of Nuclear and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan where she established and is the leader of the Detection for Nuclear Nonproliferation Group. Her research interests include the development of new methods for nuclear materials detection, identification, and characterization for nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear material control and accountability, nuclear safeguards, and national security programs.


Professor Pozzi is the director of the Consortium for Verification Technology, a consortium of 12 universities and 9 national laboratories dedicated to the development of new technologies for nuclear treaty verification. She is the co-author of the Monte Carlo code MCNPX-PoliMi, which is being used at over 50 institutions world-wide. Her publication record includes over 300 papers in journals and international conference proceedings. She was invited to give 65 seminars, both nationally and internationally. She currently advises 15 doctoral students and many undergraduate students, and is the faculty advisor for the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM) student chapter.


She is the recipient of many awards, including the 2006 Oak Ridge National Laboratory Early Career Award, 2006 Department of Energy, Office of Science, Outstanding Mentor Award, 2012 INMM Edway R. Johnson Meritorious Service Award, and 2012 UM Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department, Outstanding Achievement Award.