Professor Rodney Ewing.
Professor Rodney Ewing.

We are delighted to announce that the recipient of the 2018 Robert Cahn Award will be Professor Rod Ewing, Stanford University, USA. Rod Ewing is the Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and a Co-Director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University.

The central theme of Rod’s research has been the study of radiation effects in materials. This work began during his Ph.D. research at Stanford University as a traditional mineralogical study of metamict Nb-Ti-Ta oxides. The original work was strictly mineralogical in its approach, but he has expanded his work into the broader context of particle-solid interactions. As his academic career progressed, Rod essentially defined a new research field involving radiation-induced damage in solids from the radioactive elements present in their crystal structures. This body of work has had a significant impact on the design of nuclear waste forms for containing high-level radioactive waste.

In parallel with his fundamental research, Rod realized that his work on radiation effects had important applications to the prediction of the long-term durability of nuclear waste forms. Since this early work, he has broadened his research beyond radiation effects and began studies of natural glasses as analogues for the long-term behavior of nuclear waste glasses.

His high level of success and scientific productivity and the national and international

respect he has earned in the different fields in which he has worked have resulted in Rod receiving many honors, including the 1997 and 2002 Hawley Medal from the Mineralogical Association of Canada, the 2002 Dana Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America, and the 2006 Lomonsov Gold Medal from the Russian Academy of Sciences, which is the highest honor that the RAS can bestow. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2017.

The Robert Cahn Award recognises not just an outstanding scientist, but one who also has the ability to break down barriers between disciplines and people. The words “multidisciplinary” and “interdisciplinary” fittingly describe Rod’s work, which spans the fields of materials science, the nuclear fuel cycle, the scientific basis of nuclear waste disposal, crystal chemistry, geochemistry, and mineralogy. He has also written for the broader public in magazines such as Natural History and was co-editor and contributing author of Radioactive Waste Forms for the Future (North-Holland Physics, Amsterdam, 1988) and Uncertainty Underground – Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste (MIT Press, 2006).

The final criterion for the recipient of the Robert Cahn award is to be able to communicate science to a broad audience. Rod’s scientific understanding and ability to reduce highly complex issues to relatively simple but technically sound descriptions have made him very effective at influencing the scientific policies underlying nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal. Rod has had a significant impact on the policies underlying nuclear waste management in the U.S. through his service as Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, which is responsible for ongoing and integrated technical review of DOE activities related to transporting, packaging, storing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. This public service coupled with his service on many other national and international advisory committees and policy boards are excellent examples of his ability to communicate science to a broad audience.

I hope that you will join us in congratulating Professor Ewing on the recognition of his fine achievements. Professor Ewing will receive the award in Seattle at NuMat 2018 where he will open the conference with the Robert Cahn Award Keynote Lecture.

Below is a selection of some of the impactful work that Professor Ewing has contributed over his distinguished career. Articles listed with their DOI are freely available until November 2018.

R.J. Finch and R.C. Ewing (1992) Corrosion of uraninite under oxidizing conditions. Journal of Nuclear Materials, 190, 133-156.

P.C. Burns, R.C. Ewing, and M.L. Miller (1997) Incorporation mechanisms of actinide elements into the structures of U6+ phases formed during the oxidation of spent nuclear fuel. Journal of Nuclear Materials, 245, 1-9.

P.C. Burns, R.C. Ewing and F.C. Hawthorne (1997) Crystal chemistry of hexavalent uranium: Polyhedron geometries, bond-valence parameters, and polymerization of polyhedra. Canadian Mineralogist, 35(6), 1551-1570.

R.C. Ewing and W. Lutze (1997) Disposing of Plutonium. Science, vol. 275, 735.

R.C. Ewing, W.J. Weber and J. Lian (2004) Pyrochlore (A2B2O7): A nuclear waste form for the immobilization of plutonium and “minor” actinides. (Invited Focus Review) Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 95, 5949-5971.

M.T. Peters and R.C. Ewing (2007) A science-based approach to understanding waste form durability in open and closed nuclear fuel cycles. Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 362, 395-401.

Cameron L. Tracy, Maik Lang, John M. Pray, Fuxiang Zhang, Dimitry Popov, Changyoun Park, Christina Trautmann, Markus Bender, Daniel Severin, Vladimir A. Skuratov and Rodney C. Ewing (2015) Redox response of actinide materials to highly ionizing radiation. Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/ncomms7133, 9 pages.

Rodney C. Ewing (2015) Long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel. Nature Materials, vol. 14, 252-257.

Rodney C. Ewing, Robert A. Whittleston, and Bruce W.D. Yardley [Guest Editors] (2016) Geological disposal of nuclear waste: a Primer, Elements, vol. 12(4), 233-237.

Dylan R. Rittman, Sulgiye Park, Cameron L. Tracy, Lei Zhang, Raul I. Palomares, Maik Lang, Alexandra Navrotsky, Wendy L. Mao and Rodney C. Ewing (2017) Structure and bulk modulus of Ln-doped UO2 (Ln = La, Nd) at high pressure. Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 490, 29-33. 

Tobias Beirau, William D. Nix, Herbert Pöllmann and Rodney C. Ewing (2017) Radiation-induced effects on the mechanical properties of natural ZrSiO4: Double cascade-overlap damage accumulation. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals.  

Book Chapters

R.C. Ewing and W.J. Weber (2010) Chapter 35: Actinide Waste Forms and Radiation Effects, In: The Chemistry of the Actinides and Transactinide Elements, vol. 6, Eds. L.R. Morss, N.M. Edelstein and J. Fuger (Springer, New York) 3813-3888.

Edited Volumes

W. Lutze and Rodney C. Ewing [Editors & Contributors]  (1988) Radioactive  Waste Forms for the Future.  North-Holland Physics Publishing, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 778 pages

By Professor Gordon Brown, Stanford University (one of the Professor Ewing’s nominators for the award) and edited by Joe d’Angelo, Publisher, Elsevier.