Christine Wallace

Ph.D Student in Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences

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A doctoral student in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, Christine Wallace studies actinide chemistry and nuclear forensics.

As an undergraduate at the University of Miami, Christine studied the sorption of uranium onto different mineral phases as a function of time, temperature, and pH. Since that time, she has been fascinated with both the environmental behavior of the actinide elements, as well as with policy pertaining to nuclear waste regulations.

Now working under the direction of Dr. Peter C. Burns, Christine is currently investigating the aqueous behavior of nanoscale uranium materials, specifically uranium nanoclusters previously discovered by the Burns group. “An understanding of the complex and unique chemistry of uranium is essential to improving the nuclear fuel cycle, repository science, and remediation efforts,” she explains. “These nanoscale uranium clusters are not only fascinating, but hold much promise for application in the areas of fuel reprocessing and purification.”

Christine is also working with Prof. Antonio Simonetti to develop protocols for post-detonation nuclear forensic analysis. They are examining remnant isotopic signatures in trinitite, blast material from the world’s first nuclear detonation, in an effort to elucidate information about the nuclear device and its origins. “We want to be able to work backwards and determine information about a weapon after it has been detonated. The ultimate goal is being able to tell what type of device was set off and potentially where it originated.”

The recipient of a Schmitt Fellowship at Notre Dame, Christine has had many opportunities to present at national meetings and to network with scientists both in academia and in the national lab system. She was accepted to and completed the Nuclear Forensics Summer School (Summer 2010) at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and was awarded an internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the summer of 2011. She is the second author of two papers.