McMaster, CNL and AECL kick-off second year of undergrad nuclear research program

Two people working inside a nuclear reactor. One is pointing a device at an object that is set on a table.

Students from the Faculties of Science and Engineering are preparing for an exciting summer at McMaster and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ research facilities, where they’ll work alongside experts to advance cutting-edge research in clean energy technologies, next-gen materials and medical isotopes.

McMaster, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) have launched the latest round of the CNL Nuclear Undergraduate Research Experience program — an eight-week program that enables students to develop key research and technical skills in the nuclear field.  

Established in 2023, the program enriches learning and real-world experience in nuclear research for McMaster undergraduate students enrolled in Level II or above in the Faculties of Engineering and Science. 

The second round of the program received an impressive number of applicants — a testament to students’ enthusiasm for nuclear, says Dave Tucker, McMaster’s chief nuclear officer and associate vice-president, nuclear. 

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with CNL to offer this unique experiential learning program to McMaster students — the next generation of nuclear research and industry leaders,” he says. 

“Students enrolled in the program will have the opportunity to gain in-demand technical and professional skills and learn from experts in a variety of fields, from nuclear medicine to clean energy, manufacturing and materials research. We’re excited to support this step in their career journeys and look forward to seeing the work they achieve in our labs this summer and beyond.”  

This year’s cohort includes seven students from the Faculty of Engineering and five students from the Faculty of Science.  

Students will perform hands-on nuclear research in areas of national strategic importance, including small modular reactors, medical isotopes, nuclear imaging and materials science.  

As part of the program, students will receive guidance and mentorship from nuclear experts at McMaster and CNL — both of which house unique nuclear infrastructure and equipment that students will use as part of their studies and research projects. 

“After hearing about the CNL undergraduate experience program last year, I was excited to apply because I wanted to explore the field of nuclear while participating in hands-on work and getting research experience in radiochemistry,” says program participant Maya Mahmood, an Integrated Science and Chemical Biology student. 

“Nuclear science is an incredibly interdisciplinary field, and the breadth of projects that were offered inspired me to join the program.”  

The Chalk River Laboratories is the largest single complex among Canada’s science and technology infrastructure. Students will have access to cutting-edge technologies housed within 50+ nuclear facilities and laboratories, which are used to advance research and applications in clean energy and the environment, health sciences, safety and security. 

“We are pleased to be able to build on the success of last year’s CNL Undergraduate Nuclear Research Experience and host a new cohort of bright and talented students at the Chalk River Laboratories,” says Stephen Bushby, Vice President, Science & Technology, CNL.   

“We know the opportunity to work alongside our researchers will enhance the students’ experiential learning about nuclear and hopefully inspire them to consider CNL in their career journey.” 

Students will also spend time at McMaster’s world-class nuclear research facilities, including the 5MW McMaster Nuclear Reactor — Canada’s largest nuclear research reactor and a world-leading supplier of medical isotopes used to treat cancer. 

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