Department of Physics and Astronomy

PhD student in applied nuclear physics with a specialization on nuclear safeguards for small modular reactors

The research conducted at the Department of Physics and Astronomy encompasses a wide range of physics topics, distributed over ten divisions. The department is located in the Ångström laboratory and employs nearly 400 people, 125 of whom are doctoral students. It offers a broad physics curriculum to undergraduate and graduate students, participation in nationally and internationally leading projects for researchers, and opportunities for partnership with industry and various outreach activities.Within the Division for applied nuclear physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, research is conducted in the field of fission diagnostics and nuclear safeguards. The safeguards research is focused on i) safeguards verification of spent nuclear fuel using non-destructive assay techniques, ii) use of machine learning methods to support nuclear safeguards and iii) research on methods and approaches to support the development of appropriate nuclear safeguards measures for new nuclear energy systems.

The research group is also involved in the recently established Swedish competence centre ANItA (Academic-industrial Nuclear technology Initiative to Achieve a sustainable energy future), under which this position is announced. ANItA brings together Swedish technical and nontechnical expertise in the field of new nuclear power technology and currently consists of the following partners: Uppsala University, Chalmers, KTH, Vattenfall, Uniper, Fortum, Westinghouse Electric Sweden, Studsvik Nuclear and the Swedish Energy Agency.

The work within ANItA aims to, through research, development and education, create a Swedish knowledge and competence base for novel nuclear power technologies, in particular Small Modular Reactors (SMR:s), that provides relevant information to policymakers for making facts-based decisions on the future Swedish energy supply system.

Within ANItA, the leading universities in Sweden collaborate with Swedish and Finnish companies in the nuclear energy sector and therefore offer a unique research environment for doctoral students and

Read more about our benefits and what it is like to work at Uppsala University


This project is devoted to research on non-proliferation and safeguards aspects related to the introduction and possibly deployment of SMR:s in Sweden. Of particular interest is accounting for and verification of the nuclear material, which means that the reactors themselves are central, but that also that other issues related to e.g. the transportation and storage of fuel could become relevant. In this context, potential challenges include geographically distributed and even transportable reactor systems, systems located at non-traditional sites, and nuclear materials and reactor operations that differ from current commercial large-scale light water reactors. Safeguards solutions need to be comprehensive, cost-efficient, robust, make efficient use of safeguards resources and be as non-intrusive as possible on plant operations. The main objective of this project is to provide safeguards concepts and solutions to ensure that safeguards requirements can be met during development, assessment and licensing of SMRs. The project will also research methods and equipment suitable for safeguards verification of the fuel cycle activities for modular reactor systems. Although this project focuses on the introduction of SMRs in Sweden, the research is highly relevant for the implementation of safeguards on an international level, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as on a regional and national level.

Research tasks include studies of selected SMR concepts to better understand safeguards considerations and challenges associated with all parts of the fuel cycle. This may include aspects related to national legislation, deployment scenarios, operation modes, logistic and storage considerations and fuel recycling. The objective is to better understand what implications the deployment of SMRs and or Advanced Modular Reactors could have on nuclear safeguards, from both a technical and non-technical perspective. This work could benefit from considering proliferation assessment studies, diversion pathway analysis or studies on material attractiveness. The research is furthermore expected to include analysis of (national) needs in terms of e.g. new facilities, new logistical solutions and new instruments/approaches/methods. This part of the project is related to the societal impacts of deployment of SMRs, and the work is foreseen to be done in collaboration with other partners and working groups in ANItA.

Another major part of this project is research on the characterization of material flows of fresh and irradiated fuels, and assessments related to future fuel use in the SMRs, as well as safeguards-relevant process materials streams. It is expected that the PhD student will model and simulate for instance used nuclear fuel as well as the detection of radiation from the fuel in order to draw conclusions about how to best verify the nuclear material. This research is expected to also include the use of machine learning methods for data analysis. Also this part of the project will be executed in collaboration and cooperation with other partners and working groups in ANItA.


To meet the entry requirements for doctoral studies, you must

  • hold a Master’s (second-cycle) degree in physics, nuclear physics, nuclear technology, or
  • have completed at least 240 credits in higher education, with at least 60 credits at Master’s level including an independent project worth at least 15 credits, or
  • have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way
  • communicate well in English, both orally and in writing
  • eligible for license of industry codes such as MCNP

Additional qualifications

(Description of what is an advantage, ie beyond requirements stated above, for example experience in a specific working method, IT-systems, etc.)

The following qualifications are considered meriting:

  • Knowledge and experience of nuclear energy systems such as light water reactors and advanced nuclear energy systems
  • Knowledge and experience of the nuclear fuel cycle
  • Experience of nuclear engineering Monte-Carlo codes such as Serpent, MCNP and Geant and of modelling source terms as well as radiation detection
  • Experience of numerical analysis work in Python, Matlab or similar
  • Knowledge and experience of nuclear safeguards
  • Experience of machine learning
  • Is secure, stable and is self-aware. Sees relationships in their proper perspective, distinguishes the personal from the professional. Behaves in a manner adapted to the situation.
  • Works well independently as well as with other people, for instance in collaborations or consortia, inside and outside of academia. Relates to others in a sensitive and flexible manner. Listens, communicates and resolves conflicts in a constructive way

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines.

About the employment
The employment is a temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. Scope of employment 100 %. Starting date as agreed. Placement: Uppsala

For further information about the position, please contact: Sophie Grape,

Please submit your application by 2 May 2023, UFV-PA 2023/1069.

Are you considering moving to Sweden to work at Uppsala University? Find out more about what it´s like to work and live in Sweden.  

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2023-05-15
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2023/1069
Union representative
  • ST/TCO,
  • Seko Universitetsklubben,
  • Saco-rådet,
Published 23.Mar.2023
Last application date 02.May.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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