University Highlight: Ohio State's Carol Smidts Facilitates Collaborations between University and INL

​Dr. Carol Smidts took a long route to Columbus, Ohio. Her journey began in her native Belgium, a western European nation of 11 million people known, in this country at least, for producing a stunning variety of beers, and chocolates.

Smidts studied at the University of Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium), was a consultant for the European Commission Joint Research Center of Ispra in Italy, a post-doc and then joined as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. From there it was on to Columbus, where she now lives and works as a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University (TOSU).

One of Smidts’ duties is to serve as TOSU’s lead on the National University Consortium (NUC), a partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) that also includes Oregon State University, MIT, the University of New Mexico and North Carolina State University.

Serving as her university’s NUC lead consists of “facilitating collaborations,” Smidts said. “Putting students in contact with resources. Putting faculty in contact with resources. Putting research staff in contact with faculty and students.”

Certainly, resources abound at the nation’s lead nuclear research and development laboratory. Smidts experienced those firsthand last fall when she travelled to Idaho for the annual NUC Conference at INL’s Center for Advanced Energy Studies. So did several of the university’s students, who interned at the Laboratory last summer. 

Smidts said she sees an opportunity for more TOSU students to intern at INL, as well as increased numbers of joint appointments between the laboratory and the university.

Continuing to build this relationship, Smidts said, will require stability – slow and steady progress in pursuit of tangible goals. And Smidts said she can see these collaborative efforts opening doors down the road for her students, so long as they understand that while Idaho is many things, it is not Columbus.

“It will depend on the type of person,” Smidts said. “Are they an outdoor person, or do they like cities?”

Choices are nice to have, and the relationship with one of America’s largest and most respected universities has been a great asset to INL, said Marsha Bala, the laboratory’s deputy director for NUC.

“We really appreciate what Carol has brought to the NUC,” Bala said. “And we anticipate bigger and better things from this relationship in the future.”

By: Corey Taule

Date Published: 2017-06-05T06:00:00Z