Leslie Kerby and Nellis

Blewett Fellowship

by Stephanie Thomas

“The M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship is a prestigious honor and I am grateful to be recognized in this way,” says outstanding Ph.D. student Leslie Kerby, who is studying Nuclear Engineering in Idaho Falls. The M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship for Women in Physics is a national competitive award, which enables women to return to their research careers after having to interrupt them for various reasons. The award was established from an endowment from Blewett--an acclaimed accelerator physicist who died in 2004.

Last summer, Leslie Kerby completed an internship at Los Alamos and her work was so impressive that her mentors offered partial funding for continuing her research.  The addition of the Blewett Fellowship impacts more than her research, however. The fellowship provides Kerby $32,000 to cover her salary, travel and dependent care.  “It means that my research has funding regardless of uncertainties that may or may not arise at Los Alamos National Laboratory” notes Kerby. Moreover the extra income also impacts her family as she is the head of household simultaneously supporting and caring for five children while earning her doctorate. 

Under the guidance of Dr. Akira Tokuhiro, Kerby’s research focuses on applied nuclear physics/computational quantum mechanics and specifically upgrading MCNP6 (Monte Carlo N-Particle computer code) to include emission of high-energy light fragments (atoms heavier than He4) during nuclear reactions.

Kerby is originally from Bakersfield, Calif., and has lived in Idaho for the past 13 years. She anticipates earning her Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering in 2015.


Learn more about the Nuclear Engineering Program

Learn more about scholarships and fellowships like the Blewett Fellowship offered through the American Physical Society.

(Leslie Kerby shown above with former President M. Duane Nellis upon receiving her M.S. in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Idaho Commencement in Idaho Falls, May 2013.)