In a step that will enhance the ability of MIT to meet the next generation of research, teaching and medical-related needs in nuclear science and engineering, Associate Provost and Vice President for Research Alice P. Gast has announced the appointment of Dr. David Moncton as the new director of MIT's Nuclear Reactor Laboratory.
Moncton, an adjunct professor of physics, served as associate laboratory director of the Argonne National Laboratory from 1987-2001, where he led the design, construction and early operation of the $1 billion Advanced Photon Source. He will assume his responsibilities at MIT full time on Jan. 1 and will serve on an interim basis until then.
One of 26 small university-operated research reactors in the United States, MIT's reactor supports medical, environmental, geological, physics and materials research done by MIT and many other institutions throughout the country. It is also a teaching laboratory for the Department of Nuclear Engineering. It is the only facility in the country where collaborators from hospitals may provide advanced radiation treatment and researchers may study advanced radiation therapies for otherwise untreatable brain cancers.
"I believe that we're poised to embark on a new phase for the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory as a national user facility for Generation IV nuclear reactors," Gast said in announcing the appointment. "We are fortunate to have this opportunity to match Dr. Moncton's scientific expertise and experience in facility management with the Laboratory staff experience in nuclear reactor operation. I'm excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with David over the coming years."
Following completion of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, Moncton spent two years on assignment as executive director of the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source project in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In 1987, he was awarded the Department of Energy's E.O. Lawrence Award for his outstanding research in condensed matter physics, using neutrons and X-rays.
Moncton, who earned the Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 1975, was a student of the late Professor Clifford Shull, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1994.
Moncton served for five years on the MIT Corporation visiting committee for the Department of Nuclear Engineering. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and has been recognized by the Department of Energy and Sigma Xi for his contributions to the community through the construction of the Advanced Photon Source.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 24, 2003.