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Dr Nathaniel Read 

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Dr Nathaniel Read is a research associate in the Nuclear Energy Group at the Department of Engineering.

His primary research interests are in safety assessment methods for nuclear systems and nuclear space power applications. He is also a lecturer on the Nuclear Energy MPhil course.

His present work is concerned with detecting the early signs of nuclear power station decline, whether technical or organisational, that could lead to an accident. Following the Chernobyl accident, it was recognised that a single incident can have global consequences, leading to the establishment of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO). This organisation conducts periodic reviews of the global nuclear power station fleet and collects data on operational incidents, including those that are relatively minor.

Dr Read’s current postdoctoral work, funded by WANO, seeks to apply modern machine learning techniques to this dataset to attempt to detect early signs of station decline that could lead to an accident. This vein of thinking emerged after the Three Mile Island incident, after which it became clear that focussing on seemingly small operational details can greatly reduce the probability of large accidents as well improving plant reliability and economics. His research continues in the same philosophy but with the modern advantages of large datasets and the tools to understand them.

Dr Read is involved in several aspects of the Nuclear Energy MPhil course, leading the modules on Nuclear Safety and Advanced Fission and Fusion Systems and coordinating the MPhil project selection process. He supervises MPhil projects in the areas of reactor design, particularly for space systems, and nuclear safety.