Thomas Saller

University of Michigan

As a DOE NNSA SSGF recipient, Thomas Saller feels someone has his back.

“The program is always interested in its fellows and in making sure that they’re successful, which is quite comforting,” he says.

More importantly, perhaps, the program “provides great opportunities to hear about research occurring in tangentially related fields and to meet wonderful people that you would otherwise never have the chance to meet.”

Saller is earning his nuclear engineering doctorate at the University of Michigan. Before qualifying for the fellowship, all he knew little about stockpile stewardship was that it included areas related to his field and to maintaining the nation’s nuclear deterrent.

Since meeting other fellows and learning of their research at the annual program review, Saller says he now has a better idea of how much the field involves basic science. Besides high energy density physics and materials science, “I realize more and more how things like obtaining equations of state are crucial for stewardship science.”

Through his 2012 practicum at Sandia National Laboratories in California, Saller also has come to see work at a national lab as an attractive option – one he’ll pursue after graduation.