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Mary Alice Cusentino

Nuclear Energy


Supervising Faculty: Brian Wirth

Originally from Arlington Heights, Illinois, Mary Alice completed her B.S/M.S in nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is interested in implementing nuclear systems as a safe, clean, and reliable energy source for the future. Her previous work has focused on nuclear waste management and neutronics. She now works in fusion energy with Brian Wirth, focusing on plasma surface interactions. The interaction between the plasma and plasma facing components is a critical issue in developing a sustainable fusion reactor. Tungsten has been chosen as a candidate material for the divertor region of future fusion reactors such as ITER. However, linear plasma experiments and tokamaks have shown that tungsten forms a fuzz-like layer under helium irradiation conditions similar to those seen in fusion devices. Mary Alice is currently studying the effects of hydrogen and helium implantation on a tungsten surface computationally using molecular dynamics, an atomistic type simulation. The goal is to understand the underlying physics in fuzz formation as well as study the effects of hydrogen and mixed hydrogen-helium plasmas on a tungsten surface.


Molecular dynamics modeling of plasma material interactions for fusion reactors


Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering - University of Wisconsin-Madison

Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering - University of Wisconsin-Madison

Bachelor of Science in Mathematics - University of Wisconsin-Madison

Awards and Recognitions

  • Senior Design Competition Finalist – American Nuclear Society, 2012


M.A. Cusentino, K.D. Hammond, F. Sefta, N. Juslin, B.D. Wirth. (in press). "A Comparison of Interatomic Potentials for Modeling Tungsten-Hydrogen-Helium Plasma-Surface-Interactions," Journal of Nuclear Materials.

Contact Information

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