Heather Sandefur

  • Program Year: 3
  • Academic Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Field of Study: Plasma Engineering
  • Academic Advisor: Jean Allain
  • Practicum(s):
    Sandia National Laboratories, California (2017)
    Sandia National Laboratories, California (2018)
  • Degree(s):
    M.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Arkansas, 2016; B.S. Biological Engineering, University of Arkansas, 2012

Summary of Research

As a PhD student in the University of Illinois Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, I plan to pursue graduate research in the area of plasma science and nuclear fusion, with particular emphasis on the study of plasma-material interactions. I will work under Dr. David Ruzic within the Center for Plasma Material Interactions (CPMI) at the university to study the interactions of plasmas with the surrounding materials found in engineered systems. Existing research efforts at CPMI include the use of liquid lithium as a plasma-facing material, which is similar to past research efforts undertaken at the Sandia National Laboratory. The new HIDRA tokamak facility that is under construction at the University of Illinois will provide a unique opportunity to study plasma-material interactions and develop improved plasma facing components (PFC). Research in the design of liquid metal systems—such as a liquid lithium PFC—also has a number of other applications beyond magnetic confinement fusion. These applications include the development of improved techniques for the manufacture of nuclear fuel cladding and in the high-heat flux cooling of electronics.


R. Rizkallah et al. (2018). Latest Results From the Hybrid Illinois Device for Research and Applications (HIDRA). IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 2685-2690, July 2018.

Sandefur, H.N., Asgharpour, M., Mariott, J., Gottberg, E., Vaden, J., Matlock, M., Hestekin, J. (2015). Recovery of nutrients from swine wastewater using ultrafiltration: applications for microalgae cultivation and biofuel production. Ecological Engineering. In Print.

Sandefur, H.N., McCarty, J.A., Boles, E.C., Matlock, M.D. (2015). Peanut Products as a Protein Source: Production, Nutrition, and Environmental Impact. Sustainable Protein Sources. Ed. Sudarshan Nadathur. Elsevier.

Johnston, R.Z., Sandefur, H.N., Bandekar, P., Matlock, M.D., Haggard, B.E., Thoma, G. (2015). Predicting changes in yield and water use in the production of corn in the United States under climate change scenarios. Ecological Engineering. 82:555-565.

Sandefur, H.N., Johnston, R.Z., Matlock, M., Adey, W., Costello, T., Laughinghouse IV, H. (2014). Hydrodynamic regime considerations for the cultivation of algae in two tertiary wastewater treatment systems. Ecological Engineering. 71:527-532.

Sandefur, H.N., Matlock, M.D., Johnston, R.Z. (2014). Comparison of Methods for Quantifying Carbon Sequestration in the North Little Rock Urban Forest. Biological Engineering Transactions. 6(4): 221-231.

Sandefur, H., Cummings, E., Johnston, R.Z., Matlock, M.D., Gustafson, D.I. (2014). Analyzing correlations between stream benthic macroinvertebrate community structure, water quality, and watershed land use in the continental United States. Biological Engineering Transactions. 7(4):169-182.

McCarty, J., Sandefur, H.N., Matlock, M.D., Thoma, G., Kim, D. (2014). Life Cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Production and Consumption of Peanut Butter. Transactions of the ASABE. 57(6):1-10.

Sandefur, H.N., Matlock, M.D., Costello, T.C., Adey, W., Laughinghouse IV, H.D. (2011). Seasonal productivity of a periphytic algal community for biofuel feedstock generation and nutrient treatment. Ecological Engineering. 37:1476-1480.


2016 DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship Awardee.

2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Awardee.

2016 ASABE Superior Paper Award for "Analyzing Correlations between Stream Benthic Macroinvertebrate Community Structure, Water Quality, and Watershed Land Use in the Continental United States". Published in Biological Engineering Transactions.

2015 "Best Paper" Presenter for "Recovery of nutrients from wastewater using ultrafiltration: Applications for microalgae cultivation". American Institute of Chemical Engineering Annual Conference. Salt Lake City, Utah.