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Villanova Engineering Professor receives Early Career Award from the U.S. Department of Energy


A faculty member from Villanova University’s College of Engineering has been named a recipient of the Early Career Award from the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The award will allow David Cereceda-Senas, PhD, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, to advance research in fusion energy. Cereceda’s project, titled “Unraveling transmutation effects in tungsten-based plasma facing materials: a computational approach that integrates nuclear transmutation, first-principles, calculations and Machine Learning,” has received a five-year, $750,000 grant.

Cereceda is one of 83 recipients for the award nationwide in 2022 and is the first faculty member from Villanova to receive the U.S. DOE Early Career Award.

“Joining the challenge of harnessing the same energy that powers the sun safely here on Earth has always been a huge motivation for me since I began my research,” said Cereceda. “I am thrilled to bring a DOE Early Career Award to Villanova.”

If channeled, fusion energy would provide the most powerful and clean source of energy on the planet. His awarded project will focus on developing materials ready to handle such power.

“Having the recognition of a DOE Early Career Award from the Fusion Energy Sciences program gives me even more strength to keep working on such stimulating and important challenge for humanity,” he said.

Cereceda has worked with teams around the world for over a decade studying fusion energy. His current research focuses on facilitating the discovery, development and deployment of next-generation structural and bio-inspired materials by creating and validating computational models that leverage physically based and data-driven techniques.