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A poster without peer

Saltos leans on a railing on a balcony in front of trees.

Andrea Saltos earned her bachelor’s degree in physics in her native Ecuador before earning her master’s in Nuclear Engineering at MU in 2015. She decided to remain at Mizzou and currently is working toward completion of her doctorate in Nuclear Engineering. Photo by Ryan Owens.

MU Nuclear Engineering graduate student Andrea Saltos earned first-place honors in the student poster competition at the recent Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting in Indian Wells, Calif.

Saltos’ paper, poster and presentation focused on her work calculating the phonon dispersion relations of uranium-molybdenum alloys, which has been her focus during the past year working under Assistant Professor Karl Hammond as part of the Nuclear Engineering Program.

Phonons are what carry sound waves through solids, and measuring how the wavelength of these sound waves relates to their frequency in a given material can help determine the material’s physical properties. In the case of uranium alloys, this helps determine their fitness for use in nuclear reactors, among other applications.

“If we know the lattice vibration of these alloys, we can make sure of their thermal conductivity, thermal expansion, dynamical stability and even their neutron scattering cross sections,” Saltos explained.

After Saltos’ abstract was accepted for competition, she developed a paper, poster and presentation for the event and discussed her work with judges and event attendees during the annual meeting. At the end of the meeting, INMM Annual Meeting organizers announced the winners.

“I didn’t hear my name,” she recalled. “I heard the title of my paper and thought, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s me!’ I was in shock. It was amazing. I was not expecting that.”

Saltos earned her bachelor’s degree in physics in her native Ecuador before earning her master’s in Nuclear Engineering at MU in 2015. She decided to remain at Mizzou and currently is working toward completion of her doctorate in Nuclear Engineering.

“Believe it or not, I’ve wanted to be a nuclear engineer since I was 15,” she said.