Image of Reactor Core

Radiation Science & Engineering Center

The Radiation Science & Engineering Center (RSEC) was established in 1990 to manage Penn State's comprehensive nuclear research facilities, including the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, Gamma Irradiation Facility, Radioactive sources and Radiation measurement resources. The RSEC is an independent unit under the Vice President for Research and the Dean of the College of Engineering at Penn State University. The RSEC provides safe nuclear analytical and testing facilities in support of the research and education activities of faculty, staff, and students at Penn State. The Center's resources are also available to users from other universities and educational institutions, governmental agencies, and corporations as part of the public service functions of the Penn State University, symbolized by its status as the Land Grant Institution of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The RSEC facilities, most of which are housed in the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor Building, are some of the most unique and flexible in the country.

Two nuclear engineering grad students awarded Department of Energy fellowships

via Mariah Lucas --- [RSEC Student Operators] Scout Bucks and Alex Nellis were awarded [two of 36] graduate fellowships from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Nuclear ENergy Univeristy Program (NEUP). The fellowships include a $169,000 stipend over three years and a summer internship at a DOE lab.  Read more...

Alex Nellis and Scout Bucks receive the DOE NEUP Fellowship

Ünlü recognized with President's Award for excellence in academic integration

via Penn State News --- The 2024 President's Award, which is given to a full-time faculty member who has exhibited extraordinary achievement in the integration of teaching, research or reative accomplishment and service, has been awarded to RSEC Director, Kenan Ünlü. Read more...

Director Kenan Ünlü, standing in front of the new heavy water reflector as part of the Neutron Beam Lab expansion at the Radiation Science and Engineering Center.

Penn State welcomes neutron scattering device - a frist-of-a-kind in the U.S.

via Nuclear News --- Staff and researchers at Penn State's Radiation Science and Egineering Center (RSEC) will work this year to install a small angle neutron scattering (SANS) device and become the first and only U.S. university research reactor to host SANS capability. Read more...


New device positions Penn State at the forefront of university research reactors

via Sarah Small, University Park, Pa. --- On February 14, the RSEC began to receive peices of the small angle neutron scattering (SANS) device from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB). The donation is valued at near $9.8 million, and the arrival of the equipment makes the Penn State Breazeale Reactor the first and only U.S. university research reactor to have SANS capability. Read more...

Remembering nuclear engineering professor Forrest J. Remick Jr.

via Mariah R. Lucas, University Park, Pa. --- The Penn State College of Engineering community is mourning the loss of Forrest J. Remick Jr., professor emeritus of nuclear engineering who died on Oct. 9 at the age of 92. Remick was one of the founders of nuclear engineering at Penn State, his career spanning from 1956 to his retirement as Penn State's assoiate vice presient for research in 1993. He served as the third director of the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor facility from 1959-1967. Read more...

Forrest Remick and his wife, Soon Cho Remick, at a philanthropy dinner in 2022. Credit: Kelby Hochreither/Penn State.

Penn State receives nation's first TRIGA nuclear fuel delivery in a decade

via Tim Schley, Penn State College of Engineering --- The supply of 30 fuel elements that power the reactor are valued at $8.3 million, purchased by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of a nine-year contract with TRIGA International, a joint venture between General Atomics and the France-based Framatome. Read more...

Group Photo Fuel Deliverty

In the MEDIA: Penn State has operated a nuclear reactor in Centre County for decades. This is its history:

via Matt DiSanto, Centre Daily Times --- Penn State’s University Park campus is home to the Breazeale Reactor, the United States’ longest continuously operating university research reactor. It’s one of the many key features that comprise the university’s Radiation Science and Engineering Center, an independent unit under Penn State’s vice president for research and the dean of the College of Engineering. Read more...

External Expansion


Penn State joins DOE Nuclear Science Users Facilities Program

The RSEC has joined the Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF) as a partner institution. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy's NSUF program offers nuclear energy researchers access to world-class nuclear facilities, the expertise of nuclear scientists and engineers, and other research-related assistance according to the NSUF website. Researchers who lack access to sch facilities can apply through peer-reviewed solicitations to use NSUF facilities, which will now include those found at Penn State's RSEC. Read more...

Dr. Kenan Unlu and Dan Beck discuss future work in the Neutron Beam Laboratory at the Radiation Science and Engineering Center

Neutron Beam Laboratory Expansion Progress

Click Here to view some of the latest photos from the newest addition to the Radiation Science and Engineering Center: a 12,000 Sq Ft. addiation that includes space added onto the existing neutron beam lab in preparation of recieving the Small Angular Neutron Scattering equipement from the Berlin Neutron Source (BER II) and an upper floor office space for students, faculty, and staff.

SW Drone Photo

How the Amelia Earhart mystery may inform microplastics research

Upgraded facility at Penn State's Breazeale Nuclear Reactor reveals old information and exposes contemporary challenges. Read More... - by Ashley WennersHerron

Dan Beck and Alibek Kenges discuss neutron images at the RSEC

Breazeale Reactor achieves first simultaneous neutron beam operations

The Penn State Breazeale Reactor is the country’s first licensed and longest continuously operating nuclear research reactor, and now it is one of the most productive. Thanks to a $1.35 million grant from the U.S. Department Energy (DOE) for a new core moderator assembly and beam port installations and the College of Engineering’s $9.5 million investment in a 10,000-square-foot beam hall expansion and several technical upgrades the investment facilitated, the reactor can now run five beam ports with seven neutron beam lines simultaneously. Read more...



Reactor Open House - October 8, 2022

As part of Parents & Families Weekend this Fall, the Breazeale Reactor will be opening it's doors to visitors as it has in years past. From 10AM to 3PM on Saturday, October 8, 2022 make plans to join us here at the RSEC for reactor demonstrations, radiation experimens, and discussion of all things to do with nuclear science. Adults will need to show a valid form of photo ID upon entry - cell phones, cameras, bags, purses, food and drinks will need to be stored away during the tour.

For more information about Parents & Families weekend at Univeristy Park, what other events are happening that weekend, and how to register - please visit their website: PARENTS & FAMILIES WEEKEND.

Any questions about the Reactor Open House can be directed to Outreach Coordinator, Zach Van Horn at or 814-863-2876. We hope to see you there!

APOGEE Students Observe Breazeale Reactor


Congratulations to Candace Davison

Candace Davison, Assistant Director for Education and Outreach at RSEC, retired from the University at the end of April. She was the first woman to obtain a Senior Reactor Operator's license for the Breazeale Reactor. In addition to her work with the reactor, Candace also managed the Gamma Irradiation facilities at RSEC. Her work in nuclear science outreach has proven invaluable to the Center, the University, and the nuclear community at large. Her presence in the building will be missed by us all and we wish her the very best in her future adventures.

Candace and Unlu at Retirement Luncheon
For inquiries into tours, outreach, and gamma irradiation services - please contact Zach Van Horn ( Zach is a former student of Candace's and has joined our team as Outreach Coordinator and Gamma Irradiation Supervisor.

Zach has many years of experience in outreach and gamma irradiations at RSEC working under Candace. He graduated from Penn State with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering and is also a licensed Reactor Operator for the Breazeale Reactor. His homegrown talent will be a valuable asset during this transition. Our capabilities and functions within the facility are in good hands.

At the Nexus of Nuclear Engineering

Read more about the RSEC News and Updates in the latest publication of NUCLEUS magazine: 

Penn State Reactor Expands Size and Opportunities

Penn State’s Radiation Science & Engineering Center and the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering broke ground on a 10,000-square-foot, $9.5 million expansion of the Breazeale Reactor on Oct. 21. The nation’s first licensed and longest continuously operating nuclear research reactor, Breazeale’s expansion will accommodate an equipment donation valued at $9.8 million and facilitate more advanced neutron beam research as well as the growth of nuclear engineering at Penn State. Read more...

 Unlu, Allian, and Shwartz at the Breazeale Expansion Groundbreaking Ceremony

Neutron instrument VSANS will be moved to Penn State

At the end of 2019, the Berlin neutron source BER II was shtudown as scheduled. To ensure that the high-quality instruments can continue to be used for research, they are moving to suitable neutron sources in Germany and abroad. Now, another move has been agreed upon: The Very Small Angle Scattering Instrument (VSANS) will find a new home at the Breazeale Research Reactor at Penn State University, USA, in spring 2022.  Read more...


Nuclear science, engineering spark collaborations across Penn State and beyond

The RSEC and the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering joinly map research endeavors with expansion and $9.8M equipment donation  Read more...

Women's History Month - Penn State Women in Nuclear


In 1972, Jackie Scheurin Tate (pictured far left), a senior in nuclear engineering, became the first woman to earn a reactor operator license at Penn State. In 1990, Candace Davison (pictured far right), who is an assistant director for education and outreach at the Radiation Science & Engineering Center, was the first woman to be licensed as a senior reactor operator at the University.

$100K Nuclear Engineering Alumnus Gift Supports Reactor Licensing Program

The Moul Family Fund for Reactor Operator Internships, Don and Julie Moul's $100,000 endowment will allow undergraduate and graduate nuclear engineering students to earn their federal nuclear operator license through a yearlong training program and exam — all at no cost.  Read more...Interns in the Control Room

Investigating Amelia Earhart's disappearance mystery with neutrons

Researchers at Penn State's Breazeale Nuclear Reactor are using neutron radiography and neutron activation analysis to examine the external and internal makeup, respectively, of a metal patch that may belong to Amelia Earhart. Read more...


Eugene Wigner Visits Penn State

Despite attempts of getting Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner to guest lecture at Penn State, the Physics Department couldn't convince him to make the journey. Instead, the Director at the Penn State Breazeale Reactor, Sam Levine, convinced Wigner to come during a chance encounter with the promise of seeing the PSBR Pulse. This is the story.

Dr. Ünlü received ANS Radiation Science and Technology Award

RSEC's director, Dr. Kenan Ünlü, was selected to receive the 2020 Radiation Science and Technology Award from the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Isotopes and Radiation Division (IRD). He will be honored at the ANS Winter Meeting, held virtually from Nov. 16-19. Read more about it, here:

Dr. Unlu stands with a model of the new heavy water reflector

U.S. Army - Operation Nittany Lion increased deployment readiness during COVID 

RSEC is proud to have assisted the 20th CBRNE Nuclear Disablement Team 3 with their training. Read more about their exercise here:

 U.S. Army Nuclear Disablement Team 3

Parents & Families Weekend Virtual Open House

Thank-You to everyone who participated in the 2020 Virtual Open House! Hopefully we'll see in you in person, soon. In the meantime, keep checking in for facinating stories from the reactor's past from our alumni.



On August 15, 1955 the world's first civilian nuclear reactor reached criticality on the campus of Penn State University. This year, we're celebrating 65 years under the R-2 License and preparing for many more to come.


Candace Davison, Assistant Director for Education and Outreach, participates with OLLI at Penn State as an instructor

RSEC Eduation and Outreach is adjusting to online instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Illuminating Illusions exhibit at HUB is now digital

RSEC contribution to the Penn State Museum Consortium exhibit, Illuminating Illusions, is now available online.


RSEC featured in Research Penn State Magazine

Nuclear Options by Cherie Winner was published in Research Penn State Magazine in Fall of 2018. You can find it on page 12 or read it online.

"Research reactor fulfills Ike's vision of 'atoms for peace.'"


Radiation Science and Engineering Center Receives $1 million DOE grant

Shaina Blunt, senior reactor operator and undergraduate student intern, at the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor control console.


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The Radiation Science & Engineering Center (RSEC) was established to manage Penn State's comprehensive nuclear research facilities, including the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, Gamma Irradiation Facility, Radioactive sources and Radiation measurement resources. The RSEC provides safe nuclear analytical and testing facilities in support of the research and education activities of faculty, staff, and students at Penn State.

Radiation Science & Engineering Center

101 Breazeale Nuclear Reactor

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-865-6351