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A Q&A with new NPRE research scientist Madicken Munk

6/1/2021

Phillip Kisubika

A Q&A with new NPRE research scientist Madicken Munk

Dr. Madicken Munk is NPRE's newest research scientist. She has previously worked as a post-doctoral researcher on campus at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Before coming to UIUC, Munk received her BS in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University and her MS and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. 

As she starts this next phase of her academic career, here is a short Q and A on her background.

>  What is your hometown?
I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I love the cold Midwestern climate, so I feel right at home in Champaign-Urbana.

> What inspired you to study nuclear engineering?
My favorite subjects in high school were math, physics, and chemistry. I was fascinated by a small unit on nuclear technologies that we were taught in my physics class. During my college search, I found myself drawn to the nuclear departments that I visited. I felt immediately included, and all of the students I met were so passionate about their work.

> What brought you to Illinois?
My doctoral research primarily centered on developing hybrid methods for radiation transport, which is a computationally focused topic. As a member of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, a crucial dimension of my work benefited from using and building open-source tools for my science. As I was finishing my degree, I interviewed for a position in the Data Exploration Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC getting to work on yt, a Python package for data exploration, analysis, and visualization of computational simulations. I've been at NCSA ever since and I've enjoyed building up my computational toolbox to make my nuclear engineering research more versatile, flexible, and creative.

> What will you be teaching this coming year?
I have no immediate plans for teaching but do love teaching and would love to do so in the future. During the upcoming academic year, I plan to focus on mentoring the ARFC research group and getting to know the intricacies of everyone’s fascinating research projects.

> What are you looking forward to in your new role at NPRE?
I am really looking forward to building collaborative relationships in the NPRE department and doing exciting work on advanced reactors and fuel cycles. The students in ARFC are vibrant and inspiring, and I am honored to be able to work with such bright, curious people.

> What are your favorite pastimes outside of the office/lab?
I love exploring the parks of Urbana-Champaign -- and maybe even going for a swim if there's water! I have a very cute cat that I really like to tease and take pictures of. I'll confess that the majority of my camera roll is filled with pictures of my cat. I also love curling up with a good book and cup of coffee (and my cat).