National Nuclear Laboratory


Monday 8 August 2022

NNL colleague wins Materials Science Thesis Prize

Joe Mahmoud, who joined NNL in May as an Operations & Technical Support Assistant in the Separations Science & Special Nuclear Material Team, has won the prestigious 2022 Materials Science Thesis Prize.​​

​Joe completed his PhD at The University of Manchester in December 2021, jointly sponsored by AWE and the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers.

His thesis concentrated on the development of new methods for the rapid separation of americium from complex matrices. This research has many practical applications and is particularly pertinent to nuclear fuel reprocessing, environmental remediation and nuclear forensics.

He was presented with his Thesis Medal by the Master of Armourers and Brasiers’ Company Nicky Davies, along with AWE Head of Outreach Professor Norman Godfrey, at the Materials Science Forum – held at the University of Cambridge in June.

Joe said: “It is a great honour to be awarded the AWE Armourers and Brasiers Thesis Prize 2022. I feel that it is a fantastic recognition of all the hard work that myself and my supervisors, both at The University of Manchester and AWE, put into the project to overcome several challenges, not least of which were those imposed by the national lockdowns.

“Moreover, I am very proud to be representing a radiochemistry project as the winner of the 2022 prize as I think it serves as a great reminder as to the interdisciplinary nature of materials science and nuclear science and engineering more generally. I very much look forward to continued collaboration with both the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers and AWE in the future.”

Inaugurated in 2019, the prize is awarded annually for the best thesis on a materials science theme produced by an AWE sponsored postgraduate student and published in the 12 months preceding the judging. The process is initiated by an invitation to industrial supervisors within AWE to nominate their sponsored student, and the shortlisted theses are then judged by a panel of distinguished specialists for presentation, readability and scientific content.

Nicky Davies said: “Our modern charitable purpose is to make the UK the best place to study, research and practise materials science. Through this award given in partnership with AWE, we are delighted to recognise Joe’s impressive research at the start of his career as a professional scientist specialising in materials science.”

Professor Norman Godfrey, AWE Head of Outreach, said: “Joe’s thesis was of high quality with excellent scientific content and clarity. His experiments were carefully considered and researched, supported by sound conclusions and recommendations for anyone wishing to take his work further. It was a thesis of which Joe can be proud as I am – and he is a deserved winner.”

Dr Paul Collings, NNL’s Head of Capability for Fuel, Reactors and Reprocessing said: “The quality of science and the subsequent communication of it is extremely important to NNL as we deliver our purpose – nuclear science to benefit society. New talent that can develop these skills is vital to the future of NNL and it is gratifying when, like Joe, they arrive already recognised for this. Many congratulations, Joe!”