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Robert O'Brien

Other Modeling and Simulation
Discovery Research


Dr. Robert O’Brien is an internationally recognized Principal Nuclear Scientist/Engineer who has focused his career on the development of advanced materials and energy systems in addition to the manufacturing processes to produce materials for harsh environments Dr. O’Brien received a PhD in the nuclear engineering and physics of radioisotope and nuclear power / propulsion systems for space exploration from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Under his PhD research project, Dr. O’Brien proposed the use of americium-based radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) and developed Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) Electric Field Assisted Sintering Techniques (EFAST) for the encapsulation of nuclear materials for both RTGs and nuclear reactor fuels. Dr. O’Brien also received a Masters degree in Physics with Space Science and technology from the University of Leicester. Dr. O’Brien’s research and programmatic management experience in advanced manufacturing of harsh environment materials, space systems and instrumentation design/development, defense systems, nuclear fuel performance, nuclear instrumentation, nuclear safety, irradiation testing, radioisotope source design, and nuclear power system design and development. 

Dr. O’Brien currently serves as the Director of Advanced Manufacturing for the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Under this role, Dr O’Brien’s leadership extends across all of the Directorates of the laboratory; Energy & Environment Science & Technology, Nuclear Science & Technology, National & Homeland Security, Materials & Fuels Complex, Advanced Test Reactor, and Industry Engagement.