Job Opportunity: NSSC – Undergrad Research Assistant in Nuclear Security Systems Design



Deadline: Rolling

Efforts by terrorist organizations to use nuclear or other radioactive materials in malicious attacks pose a serious threat to international peace and security. The Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, supports international efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to the theft, sabotage, or illicit transport of nuclear materials and other radioactive substances and their associated facilities.

This project explores the use of redundancy in security system design. Classical reliability theory would suggest that adding redundant detection devices to a security system increases the probability of detecting an intrusion. However, in many cases a human is one of these security measures, possessing the authority to heed or ignore alerts provided by mechanical or electronic devices. When only a few such devices exist, special attention is paid to them. On the other hand, when many such devices exist, the combined effect of increased human trust in the robustness of the system and the increased likelihood of false alarms create the possibility (or probability) that alerts will be deprioritized or ignored. Considering the possible effects of redundancy on human belief and, in turn, the human element’s likelihood of heeding alerts, does an optimum level of redundancy exist in security system design? Does this optimum change with the overall parallel or series structure of the system?

The research assistant will work with NSSC leadership and Sandia staff to develop a mathematical model or computer model demonstrating how security system reliability changes as a function of the number and structure of redundant devices considering the human effect, and summarize findings via a report and presentation to the broader NSSC community. This position reports to Dr. Bethany Goldblum.


40 hours per week (summer), 10 hours per week (academic year) $15 per hour

Required Qualifications:


  •  Undergraduate degree in progress in Nuclear Engineering, Physics, EECS, or related disciplines
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • U.S. citizen


To apply, submit a cover letter and CV to 

Bethany L. Goldblum, PhD ( 


Any questions should be directed to:

Bethany L. Goldblum, PhD (

Department of Nuclear Engineering, UC Berkeley

Director of Education, Nuclear Science and Security Consortium



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