Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear Engineer

Biography

Jeff Katalenich is a staff research scientist and engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). His interests and experiences are broad but focus primarily on national security, material processing, and space nuclear power. He joined PNNL in 2014 as a Linus Pauling Postdoctoral Fellow.

Jeff earned a BS in mechanical engineering, an MS in engineering, and a PhD in nuclear engineering. He also has experience in the fields of applied aerospace engineering, materials science, and chemistry.

While earning his mechanical engineering degree, Jeff was the project manager of an Air Force Research Laboratory-sponsored university satellite project, performing the initial work on a vehicle that launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy in June 2019 from Cape Canaveral. He received both a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship to fund his graduate studies.

For his PhD thesis, Jeff conducted experimental research that involved creating an apparatus to make plutonium fuels (using cerium surrogates) using a modified sol-gel process. In 2017, he demonstrated the production of plutonium-238 dioxide sol-gel microspheres for space heat and power sources.

In 2021, Jeff received PNNL’s Ronald Brodzinski Award for Early Career Exceptional Achievement based on his sol-gel research. He has managed several complex projects with a variety of safety, security, and technical risks. Jeff also served as the technical program chair for the American Nuclear Society’s annual Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space Conference in 2017 and 2019.

Education

  • PhD, Nuclear Engineering, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • MS, Engineering, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, Michigan Technological University