Sakurahara awarded prestigious PRA fellowship


Phillip Kisubika

Sakurahara awarded prestigious PRA fellowship

NPRE Research Assistant Professor Tatsuya Sakurahara has been awarded the George Apostolakis Fellowship by the International Association for Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management (IAPSAM).

The fellowship is intended to honor an individual who may be one of tomorrow’s leaders in the advancement of Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA). The Apostolakis Fellowship honors Prof. George Apostolakis for his contribution to the science of risk analysis as well as his vision, energy, and guidance generously given to IAPSAM. The George Apostolakis Fellowship is to be awarded to an “early career” individual who is active in the field of PRA.

As the fellowship winner, Sakurahara is set to participate to the PSAM 16 Conference in late June 2022 in Honolulu, HI to receive the award during the conference. “The competition this year was very high, but Tatsuya’s background and dedication to the field of safety and risk was judged to be an exemplary demonstration of the spirit of the George Apostolakis Fellowship,” said Dr. Curtis Smith, PSAM 16 General Chair and the Director for the Idaho National Laboratory Nuclear Safety and Regulatory Research Division.

Sakurahara holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is the Chief Scientist in NPRE’s Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Research Laboratory, led by NPRE Associate Professor Zahra Mohaghegh, who was the Apostolakis Fellowship awardee in 2012.  

Sakurahara came to the University of Illinois after earning his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Tokyo. Tatsuya’s Ph.D. thesis, advised by Mohaghegh, focused on developing the Integrated PRA (I-PRA) methodology to increase the realism of risk estimation for nuclear power plants. His Ph.D. research also contributed to advanced techniques for uncertainty analysis, importance measure analysis, and the simulation-informed common cause failure modeling. After finishing his Ph.D., he has been involved in multiple large-scale projects of the SoTeRiA Laboratory, developing methodologies and computational platforms to advance PRA science and applications for commercial nuclear power plants and advanced reactors.

Most recently, Sakurahara is serving as the principal investigator on a SoTeRiA project entitled “Establishing a Risk-Informed Validation Research Hub.” The project was selected for the Grainger College of Engineering’s Strategic Research Initiatives Phase I Award. This first-of-its-kind research hub encompasses the full spectrum of risk analysis including advanced physics-human-organization simulations that are integrated with innovative risk assessment and risk-informed validation methodologies and equipped with a regulatory-accredited testing facility. The proposed hub will support the nuclear industry and regulatory agency with the deployment of new technologies.