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ACU NEXT Lab students receive scholarship from the U.S. Department of Energy

Five students who are a part of the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Laboratory at Abilene Christian University were awarded scholarships from the U.S. Department of Energy’s University Nuclear Leadership Program. Although ACU students have been awarded these scholarships in past years, this is the most scholarships ACU has received in a single cycle.


Evan Babb, senior biology major from Lubbock, working in the NEXT Lab.
Evan Babb, senior biology major from Lubbock, working in the NEXT Lab.

Samuel Ash, sophomore engineering major from Stephens, Georgia; Matson Camp, junior engineering major from Amarillo; Carson Noack, junior engineering major from Houston; Raul Romero, junior chemistry major from Victoria; and Evan Babb, senior biology major from Lubbock, were among 92 students nationwide who received the University Nuclear Leadership Program scholarships from the Nuclear Energy University Program.  The students will receive a $10,000 scholarship to further their education as nuclear energy-related leaders.

Dr. Tim Head, department chair and professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics, has been working with the students on their applications and said these scholarships elevate ACU’s status onto a national stage and propel students into future opportunities in academia and business.

“These are hardworking students who are curious about how things work and passionate about helping NEXT Lab bring blessings to the world through nuclear energy,” Head said. “They have done this in their own projects using their individual talents and skills.”

With the five scholarships, ACU tied for fourth most scholarship recipients out of 31 schools receiving scholarships. ACU also had the most recipients among private and faith-based universities and tied with Texas A&M for the most recipients among Texas universities.

“We’re competing very well with our peers, most of whom are high-profile Research 1 universities in the Carnegie rankings,” said Rusty Towell (’90), director of the NEXT Lab.

The most scholarships the NEXT Lab has received in the past was two with this year’s winners more than doubling the number with five recipients.

Through his work at NEXT Lab, Noack has been able to design, model and test a high-temperature molten salt drain tank, which will be used to demonstrate the proof of concept for one of the first advanced research reactors in the U.S.

“Being awarded the UNLP scholarship is a great privilege and a wonderful opportunity,” Noack said. “I am deeply interested in nuclear energy, and I have a strong desire to contribute to the Department of Energy Nuclear Energy office mission. My goal is to advance nuclear energy science and technology so that it can better meet the U.S. energy, environmental and economic needs.”

Noack plans to work at the Idaho National Laboratory, the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development, this summer.

About NEXT Lab

ACU’s Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Laboratory is working to design, license and build a molten salt research reactor. NEXT Lab employs 60 students, 23 faculty and eight staff across all disciplines. ACU is the lead university in the NEXT Research Alliance (NEXTRA), which includes Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin. NEXTRA has a $30.5 million research agreement with Natura Resources.

— Connor Mullins

May 3, 2023

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