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College of Engineering and Computing

Our People

Faculty, Post-Doctoral Fellows, and Students


Theodore "Ted" Besmann

Professor and Endowed Chair of the General Atomics Center for Development of Transformational Nuclear Technologies


Mallikharjuna R. Bogala, Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Bogala received MS degrees in both Metallurgy and Analytical Chemistry from the University of Alabama in 2015 and 2009, respectively, and his doctoral degree in Materials Science in 2016. These followed his obtaining a M.Tech. degree in Modern Methods of Chemical Analysis from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi in 2004 after a 5-year Integrated M.Sc. in Chemistry from Pondicherry University in 2002.  Bogala’s research interests include synthesis of high-temperature materials by sintering and arc-melting techniques, carrying out mechanical, thermochemical and thermophysical property measurements using cracking/rupture tests, TGA/DSC, XRD, and SEM/TEM microanalysis, and CALPHAD assessments of the thermochemistry and phase equilibria of materials systems.


Vancho Kocevski, Post- Doctoral Fellow

Kocevski earned his PhD in Solid State Physics at Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2015, before working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Northwestern University for 2 years. His research interests include thermodynamic modeling of materials, electron microscopy, and developing and utilizing methodologies for materials discovery and design. He has experience using computational materials approaches such as density functional theory, ab-initio and classical molecular dynamics, and the multislice method.    


Denise Adorno Lopes, Post- Doctoral Fellow

Denise has a Bachelor in Physics, earned a Master's and PhD degree in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from São Paulo University (USP). She worked for 5 years at the Brazilian Navy Technological Center, where she performed research on fabricating, characterising and testing properties of U-Mo and U-Nb-Zr alloys for nuclear fuel plate concept. Before coming to USC she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Reactor Physics Department of Royal Institute of Technology – KTH in Sweden, where she conducted integrated modeling and experimental work on UN and U3Si2 including ab initio calculations and thermophysical measurements.    


Emily Moore, Post-Doctoral Fellow

Emily earned a PhD in Physics from the École Polytechnique for her research at the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA-Saclay).  Her undergraduate and masters studies were completed at the University of Arizona, with Bachelor degrees in Chemistry and German Studies, and a Master degree in Material Science and Engineering.  Her research focus includes chemical thermodynamics and materials properties of nuclear fuel and fission products, with competencies in thermos-kinetic modelling using CALPHAD methods and molecular dynamic simulations

Johnathon Ard

Johnathon Ard, Ph.D. Student

Ard earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics with a Concentration in Mechanical Engineering from Kennesaw State University in 2017. His undergraduate research focused on the physiochemical analysis of cerium-doped bioactive borate glasses as a novel carrier for cerium nanoparticles.

Gaston, Bem

Benjamin Gaston, Ph.D. Student

Gaston earned a Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering from Clemson University in 2008 and went on to earn a Master of Engineering in Nuclear Engineering from University of South Carolina in 2012. Research interest is the development of material models in the nuclear fuel performance code BISON. Current focus is the simulation of oxygen and fission product transport in light water reactor fuels using the equilibrium thermodynamic solver Thermochimica.


Stephen Utlak, Ph.D. Student

Stephen Utlak obtained a B.S. degree in Bioengineering at Clemson University and an M.E. degree in Nuclear Engineering at the University of South Carolina (USC) in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Upon graduating from USC, he accepted a position with Savannah River Remediation, the liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS). In 2015, he took leave from SRS to work toward a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at USC. He is now engaged in a research project advised by Prof. Ted Besmann (USC) and supported by the US Department of Energy Office of River Protection to thermochemically model the high-level waste glass expected to be produced at the Hanford Site with the goal of characterizing nepheline precipitation equilibrium behavior.


Tashiema Wilson, Ph.D. Student

Wilson earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of West Florida in 2015. She holds a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Fellowship which is supporting her pursuit of a PhD in nuclear engineering at the university. She is interested in the thermochemistry of advanced nuclear fuels for clean power generation. Wilson will be investigating the properties and behavior of uranium silicide-nitride fuels using both experimental and computational methods in a project joint with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.


Lucy Rittenberg, Undergraduate Student

Rittenberg is an undergraduate student currently working toward her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Carolina.  Her research focuses on using machine learning techniques to calculate the formation enthalpies of U-Si-N ternary compounds.

 Past Post-Doctoral Researchers