Savannah River National Laboratory, Clemson Appoint Professor to Environmental Research Post

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Savannah River National Laboratory and Clemson University have named Brian Powell to a joint faculty position to advance research on environmental remediation and radioactive waste disposal.

Powell will use geochemical modeling and laboratory and field experiments to predict how radionuclides will behave in natural and engineered environments to build remediation and waste disposal tools.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Powell to Savannah River National Laboratory as a recognized expert in computer modeling for environmental remediation,” said Vahid Majidi, director of Savannah River National Laboratory. “Not only does Dr. Powell’s joint appointment strengthen our partnership with Clemson, it gives us an opportunity to expand the impact of our research using the latest concepts in modeling.”

This joint faculty appointment between Clemson and Savannah River National Laboratory also sets the stage for increased collaboration and opens the door to unique educational opportunities for Clemson students.

“This is an important milestone for Clemson,” said Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research at Clemson University. “This collaboration will not only advance important environmental research, it will provide vital real-world experience for students who will lead this important industry into the future.”

The benefits of this joint appointment extend beyond the two organizations, said Jeff Griffin, Savannah River National Laboratory associate director for Environmental Stewardship. “Our collaboration with Dr. Powell promises to deliver real benefits to our nation. Through his knowledge of environmental issues and his expertise in computer modeling we hope to accelerate the cleanup of our nation’s legacy nuclear waste while significantly reducing costs.”

Powell holds the Fjeld Professorship in Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science at Clemson University and has dual appointments in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences and the College of Science.

His research focuses on understanding and predicting the physical, chemical and biological processes that govern the mobility of radionuclides in natural and engineered systems. This work is important to evaluate risk posed by subsurface contamination, to design remediation strategies for contaminated sites and to facilitate the use of safe disposal practices.

Powell has a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Montevallo, and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in environmental engineering and science from Clemson.

Powell was the winner of the 2014 South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research and a 2013 Department of Energy Early Career Research Program Award. He also serves on the Radiation Safety Committee of the EPA Scientific Advisory Board and is a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection, Program Activity Committee 5: Environmental Radiation and Radioactive Waste Issues.

Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, said Powell’s new appointment will be mutually beneficial to Clemson University and Savannah River National Laboratory.

“This joint appointment will enable Savannah River National Lab engineers and scientists and Brian to work closely on pressing scientific issues. It presents both organizations with the opportunity to work closely in the future,” he said.

“Dr. Powell continues to lead critical partnerships that advance discovery on very important scientific and societal challenges,” said Cynthia Young, dean of the College of Science. “His appointment at Savannah River National Laboratory will allow him to harness our collective talents and strengthen our collaboration as we cast our vision forward.”