The 2016 Nuclear Analytical Techniques (NAT) Summer School will be held at the UC Davis in Davis, CA from July 13 to July 19. We look forward to seeing you at UC Davis. The school will start at 8:00am in the Physics Building Room 416.

Topic: Nuclear Analytical Techniques (NAT)

The program will consist of some lectures, but mostly hands-on activities involving nuclear analytical techniques. Students will perform Neutron Activation Analysis using the McClellan Nuclear Research Center, study proton elastic scattering at the Crocker cyclotron facility, gain experience and skills in counting with NaI and HPGe crystals, and learn about detectors and analysis techniques important across a broad range of science and industry.


There is no registration fee to pay, but you or your institute will be liable for your expenses (travel to and from Davis, accommodation and meals). For those interested, we will arrange on-campus housing. A limited number of fellowships (provided via NSSC) will be awarded to cover the cost of housing. Please indicate in your application if you are applying for the housing support.

A grant from the National Science Foundation will be used to encourage participation of undergraduate (or first year graduate) students from underrepresented groups. The NSF grant is available to cover all the cost for 1-2 URM students. Please indicate if you are applying for the URM support.


The summer school is open to graduate students and upper-level undergraduates. Interested graduate students should be enrolled in a physics, nuclear chemistry, or nuclear engineering program. Undergraduate applicants should have at least one course in quantum mechanics, differential equations, and modern physics. Typically these students would be entering their senior year. The 2016 NAT  summer school is limited to 16 participants.

Applications to attend the School should include: – a completed application form and – an academic transcript (unofficial transcripts are accepted, upload it using the link in the form).

The deadline for receiving the application is June 5th 2016.

Local team

Mani Tripathi is a Professor of Physics at UC Davis. Prof. Tripathi’s research interests span the disciplines of particle physics and nuclear applications. He is involved in searching for dark matter using the LUX experiment at the Homestake Mine in Lead, SD, and with the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. The nuclear applications component consists of radio-assay of materials via neutron activation analysis, using the McClellan reactor at UC Davis. In addition, he is working on radiation detectors such as gaseous electron multipliers, tungsten-silicon calorimeters, and next generation silicon-based intelligent charged particle trackers. His group has developed the NEST software package, which is being adopted by experiments around the world.

Bob Svoboda is a professor at UC Davis whose interests are in neutrino physics. His NSSC work includes collaboration with LLNL on the deployment and calibration of a neutrino detector for reactor monitoring, and development of the Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) facility at MNRC for use in analysis of trace amount of radioactive contaminants in bulk materials.

Emilija Pantic is assistant professor at UC Davis whose interests are in the fields of experimental dark matter searches and neutrino physics using noble liquid based detectors. She is also working on development and characterization of novel photosensors and other R&D efforts towards future noble liquid detectors in rare event searches.

Chris Grant is a postdoc in the experimental high-energy physics group at UC Davis. Dr. Grant’s research focuses on the development of ultra-low background particle detectors having the capability to search for dark matter and new particle physics phenomena. He is involved in the data production and detector calibration efforts for the Double Chooz reactor neutrino experiment which provided the first observation of a positive theta-13, the last remaining neutrino mixing angle yet to be measured with reasonable accuracy. In addition to Double Chooz, he is also involved in neutron activation analysis (NAA), an invaluable resource for radio-assaying materials used in the construction of ultra-low background particle detectors. His studies are performed at the UC Davis McClellan Nuclear Research Center, where he seeks to improve the sensitivity of NAA in order to further extend the capabilities of ultra-low background particle physics experiments.

Aaron Manalaysay is a postdoc in the astroparticle physics group at UC Davis. His research activities have included dark matter direct detection with cryogenic crystals and liquid xenon, and very-high-energy gamma ray astronomy with the up-coming Cherenkov Telescope Array. Currently he is involved in the LUX dark matter search experiment and R&D efforts for its successor, LZ.

Tessa Johnson is a postdoc working on rare event detection with noble liquid detectors at UC Davis.  Her research has included searching for exotic processes in double beta decay, precision neutron capture measurements and modeling, and direct dark matter searches.  She is currently focusing on the DarkSide-50 liquid argon dark matter search, including analysis, event reconstruction, and simulation of data.  She also works on precision measurements of liquid argon detector response to neutrons and development of the DarkSide-50 successor.

Nick Walsh is a graduate student working with Dr. Svoboda. He is measuring neutron fluxes of the Crocker cyclotron neutron beam and using these fluxes to extract an argon-40 cross section. This particular cross section, 40Ar+n→40Cl+p, is a background to supernova neutrinos detection in argon. There are several argon detectors, both running and proposed, which will measure various neutrino properties and potentially supernova neutrinos. Previously, he was involved in reactor neutrino experiments both of which used gadolinium-loaded liquid scintillator to detect reactor antineutrinos.

Morgan’s research interests lie in looking at physics which could give insight into new physics that is lurking just beyond the standard model. I work mostly on experiments involving neutrino interactions, with most of my current time spent on the SNO+ experiment in Sudbury, Ontario. With SNO+ we try to measure the mass nature of the neutrino by looking for neutrinoless double beta decay, and we are also sensitive to certain modes of invisible nucleon decay.

James Morad is a graduate student entering his 6th year working on direct dark matter detection with Professor Tripathi. His interested include detector electronic component R&D as well as software development for data analysis and visualization schemes.

Ben Godfrey is a PhD candidate at UC Davis. His interests include detector R&D and analog electronics. In the past, he has characterized the radiation hardness of static random access memory for use in L1 trigger development at the CMS detector.

Dustin Burns is a PhD candidate at UC Davis. He is involved with the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland. His CMS research consists of a collider production search for dark matter in the mono-Higgs channel, ECAL prototype beam testing at SPS at CERN, and offline L1 trigger software development. He is also a founding member of the CRAYFIS (Cosmic RAYs Found In Smartphones) experiment, which detects ultra high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) with a ground-based array of smartphones and other mobile devices. For CRAYFIS, Dustin has worked on characterizing the CMOS sensor in smartphones to understand the response and detection efficiency of various particles, including muons from the SPS beam and from cosmics. He has also worked on the UHECR reconstruction algorithm, simulating the reconstruction resolution of shower parameters.

Teal Pershing is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Davis. His research interests include detector R&D and neutrino physics. Teal’s past work for NSSC has included assaying of liquid scintillator components using neutron activation analysis. Teal is currently working with the SNO+ neutrinoless double-beta decay experiment to develop a liquid scintillator purification technique through nanofiltration. Teal also develops event generators for the RAT-PAC event simulator/analysis package with the WATCHMAN collaboration.

Ben is a Ph.D. candidate working with Dr. Emilija Pantic at UC Davis.  Past research includes simulation and R&D for Cherenkov light yield of cosmic ray muon interactions in support of the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE, now DUNE).  Currently he is working on an experiment designed to characterize neutron interactions with liquid argon, in support of the DarkSide dark matter direct-detection search.

Christopher Brainerd is a PhD candidate at UC Davis. He works on the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. His current research involves development for the L1 trigger on CMS and particle searches involving multiphoton signatures.

Steven is a PhD candidate at UC Davis. His research activities have included neutron detector R&D for radiation portal monitors, preparation of neutron cross section data libraries for use with the MCNP and PARTISN transport codes, and hardware work on the mini-CAPTAIN experiment at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His current work focuses on simulations of tens-of-MeV neutrino-nucleus interactions in liquid argon and their implications for supernova neutrino detection in DUNE.

Joshua is a PhD candidate at UC Davis. Originally working on the CMS experiment at CERN, he now works with the Neutron Induced Fission Fragment Tracking Experiment (NIFFTE) collaboration in determining the 235U and 239Pu neutron-induced fission cross sections to <1% accuracy. Joshua’s research involves determining the incident neutron energy dependence on fission fragment mass distributions.

Vincent Fischer is a postdoc working in the neutrino physics group at UC Davis. His research focuses on the understanding of neutrino interactions and the search for exotic processes beyond the Standard Model. He is currently involved in the construction, commissioning, data analysis and simulation of the ANNIE experiment, a water Cherenkov detector dedicated to measure the neutron yield of neutrino interactions in water. Besides ANNIE, he will be involved in the data analysis, simulation and purification of the SNO+ experiment, a large multi-purpose liquid scintillator detector whose main goal is to detect the neutrinoless double beta decay process. In the past, he had been working with liquid scintillator detectors to observe reactor neutrinos both for fundamental physics and reactor monitoring.

Information for NAT 2016 students

Activities: Most of the activities will have preactivity tasks assigned. Please do it before your scheduled activity and familiarize yourself with the material.

Please fill out CNL RUA form required for dosimeter badge issuance and email it to Without it you can not follow proton activity.

Internet: There is a free wifi for UCD guest called ucd-guest. Connect to it and follow instructions. See more here Wifi guest info

Checking in at the Dorm: If you are staying at the dorm, please see Dorm , Regulations and Dining. We will send individual dorm assignments via email.

Required Clothing: Working in labs at UC Davis will requires that you wear long pants and closed toed-shoes. Please remember to bring these with you. Other required Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will be provided to you as needed.

Parking: If you are driving to campus you must park in the visitor lots. The easiest is the Mondavi Parking Structure, which is about a ten minute walk from the Physics Building (campus maps are available online). Note, you will need to get a parking pass from the machine each day (cost is $9).


Transportation: If you are flying into Sacramento, there is a convenient door-to-door shuttle called the Davis Airporter ($23/trip). Make a reservation in advance with the Davis Airporter. Davis is also served by the Amtrak Capitol Corridor line, if you want to take the train. It is about a 30-minute walk from the station to the dorm through the downtown area.

2016 Participants

NSSC Participants: Ellen Edwards PhD Nuclear engineering at UCB, Andrew Voyles PhD Nuclear engineering at UCB, Francisco Suarez Ortiz PhD Nuclear engineering at Imperial College London, Athena Gallardo PhD Radiochemistry at UNLV, Vetri Velan Phd Physics at UCB, Kyle Bilton  PhD Nuclear engineering at UCB, Uday, Mehta UG Nuclear engineering at UCB and Waste Characterization Group at LLNL, and Ryan Phung  UG Physics at UNLV.

Local NSSC Participants: Cameron Saylor Phd Physics at UCD, Elizabeth Macias UG Physics at UCD and Onaiza

Other participants: Ziping, Ye Phd Physics at University of Houston

International participants: Hong-Min Lee PhD Nuclear Engineering at YeungNam University, Su Won, Lee PhD Nuclear Engineering at YeungNam University, Jun Yeong Jo PhD Nuclear Engineering at YeungNam University, , Hyundong Jang  PhD Electronic Engineering at YeungNam University,


Group A: Ellen, Andrew , Francisco and Athena

Group B:Elizabeth,  Cameron, Ziping and Vetri

Group C: Kyle, Uday, Onaiza and Ryan

Group D: Su Won Lee, Hong-Min Lee, Hyundong Jang and Jun Yeong Jo


MNRC and NAA – Wesley Drew Frey

Reactors – Vincent Fisher

Photosensors – Bob Svoboda

Intro to SiPM – Ben Godfrey

LANL – Zavarin Mavrik

Nuclear Data from Baghdad to Berkeley – Lee Bernstein

Silicon Carbide Composite for Nuclear Power Reactor Design – Young-Hwan Han

Low background Experiments and Material Assay – Tessa Johnson

CT imaging: Recent Improvements and Persistent Challenges – Jerrold Bushberg


Neutron Activation Analysis – NAA 1/2/3
Charge particle loss – Proton – Proton 1/2/3
Field programable Gate Array – ELEC 1/2/3
CRAYFIS Radiation measurement with your phone – CRAYFIS
Gamma spectroscopy with inorganic scintillators – GAMMA1
Gamma spectroscopy with Ge detector – GAMMA2
Basic characterization of PMT – PMT1
Cosmic ray flux measurements – PMT2
Basic characterization of SiPM – SiPM1
Micro channel plate MCP – MCP1

Previous schools

NSSC summer school in 2015     NSSC summer school in 2013    NSSC summer school in 2012

NAT summer school is supported by