By: Tiffany Adams
Paul Talbot's history with Idaho National Laboratory is substantial. Now a postdoctoral researcher, Talbot was first introduced to the work being done at INL after attending a research seminar given by former INL researcher, Michael Tonks.
It was this encounter that led to Talbot's first internship with INL working with Tonks on MARMOT, an application that models microscopic fuel changes during irradiation. Through this work Talbot discovered his interest in modeling and simulation something he says he finds "very fascinating." This fascination led to two additional degrees in nuclear engineering, a master's degree from Oregon State University and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.
As a graduate student, Talbot completed additional internships with INL as well as Los Alamos National Laboratory. While at INL, Talbot was introduced to more of INL's modeling and simulation group, working on the MOOSE and RAVEN applications, part of which was done through an INL Laboratory-directed Research and Development (LDRD) project led by Cristian Rabiti. Talbot's work centered on developing a new feature being added to RAVEN, one that was well-suited for student work. "It was pushing the boundaries of [the application], but [the development team] didn't have enough people to do all the work," Talbot said. "It didn't have to be done super fast, so it was something easy to collaborate with a student on." Spending summers in Idaho and the rest of the year in Albuquerque, Talbot credits this experience with preparing him for his current postdoctoral research position. "I was able to learn a lot hands on, in an intern capacity, where there wasn't a lot of pressure, but Cristian got a lot of great work out of me."
During all of his internships with INL, Talbot values the meaningful work he was able to be a part of saying, "It was a partnership where I was able to produce something that had value. They treated me more like one of the team than an add-on who was just here for a while."
Of his current work, still with Rabiti working on RAVEN, he is proud to be a part of a team making a lasting impact in the field of nuclear energy: "We're not just grinding out the same product over and over again. We're changing the workplace."