Nuclear engineering department expands with new faculty member

Johnsen specializes in emergent areas of radiochemistry, advanced radiological engineering


By Megan Lakatos

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Amanda Johnsen joined the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State as assistant professor on Aug. 15.

Previously, Johnsen worked at Penn State’s Radiation Science and Engineering Center (RSEC) as a research associate from 2011 to 2017 and assistant research professor from 2017 to 2019.

“Professor Johnsen brings a wealth of expertise in promising areas of radiochemistry and advanced radiological engineering, strengthening our strategy to pursue both traditional and emerging areas in nuclear science and engineering,” said Jean Paul Allain, head of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering. “Her work at RSEC and exceptional scholarship is an exciting addition to a cadre of excellent faculty in our newly established Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering.”

Her current research projects, some in collaboration with other faculty in the nuclear engineering department, include nuclear forensics work on short-lived fission product yields using radiochemistry techniques, isotope production and purification methods, neutron activation analysis methods and safeguards for molten salt reactors. The goal of her work is to develop and use radiochemical methods in service of a variety of national needs, including nuclear forensics, nuclear safeguards, radioisotope production and environmental stewardship. In addition, Johnsen teaches courses in nuclear and radiochemistry, nuclear waste management and issues in nuclear engineering.

“I’m excited to work more with students and to focus on research,” Johnsen said. “I really enjoy helping students learn to think scientifically and to approach problems in a systematic way. I love seeing their successes and helping them launch their careers, whatever they may be. And being able to pursue interesting and useful research questions while working with students makes it even better.”

Johnsen earned a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a member and vice chair of the Penn State Isotopes Committee and member of the Penn State RSEC Safety Committee. She also is a regular reviewer for the American Nuclear Society’s Isotopes and Radiation Division and the Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry.


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Megan Lakatos

Amanda Johnsen headshot

Amanda Johnsen, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at Penn State. IMAGE: PENN STATE



The Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the top ranked nuclear engineering programs in the United States. The department distinguishes itself from other programs with a strong focus on experimental research in power, science, security and safety. The actively growing department leads four educational programs for students pursuing a bachelor of science, a master of science, a master of engineering or a doctoral degree. The department also houses the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, the country’s first and longest operating licensed nuclear reactor. The construction and operation of the reactor introduced nuclear engineering to Penn State, and, in doing so, harnessed research and educational opportunities as key strengths for the department. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at

Department of Nuclear Engineering

205 Hallowell Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-863-6938