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Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: Mathematical Research and Opportunities in the Science of National Security

Aaron Luttman
6:30 p.m. - February 22, 2018

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Space is limited. Please click here to RSVP for this lecture.

Abstract: Nuclear security is in the news more now than since the earliest days of the cold war, and the rise of new nuclear states and non-state actors attempting to obtain nuclear materials has shifted the way the world views nuclear threats. Two of the most important priorities in the U.S. are (i) ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nuclear weapons stockpile and (ii) working to prevent and counter nuclear weapons proliferation. In this presentation, we will introduce the Stockpile Stewardship and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation missions of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which comprise one of the largest scientific and R&D enterprises in the world. While the number of mathematicians and statisticians working in nuclear security is dwarfed by the number of physicists, chemists, and engineers, there are still many exciting opportunities for mathematics students to contribute to the most important scientific problems in nuclear security, from analyzing data in weapons-related experiments to mathematical modeling of hydrodynamics and other physical processes to the large-scale data science needed for monitoring the movement of nuclear materials. The NNSA laboratories and sites all maintain vibrant internship programs for undergraduate and graduate students in the mathematical sciences, and we will present the results of some recent student work in the NNSA enterprise as well as provide information on upcoming research opportunities.

Biography: Dr. Aaron Luttman lives in Las Vegas, NV, where he is the manager of the Diagnostic Research and Materials Studies group at the NNSA’s Nevada National Security Site. He oversees a group of 25 physicists, engineers, and mathematicians; manages a nonproliferation research portfolio; and advises several interns and Ph.D. Students each year. In 2016, Dr. Luttman also served as technical advisor to the NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs Research & Development in Washington, D.C., developing future experimental programs for Stockpile Stewardship. Prior to coming to the NNSA research enterprise, Dr. Luttman studied at Purdue University, the University of Minnesota, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), and the University of Montana, where he received his Ph.D. in Mathematics, using image processing techniques to analyze the dynamics of plant respiration. In addition to botany, his research interests include Banach algebras, computer vision, functional analysis, Bayesian models for inverse problems, evolutionary biology, landscape ecology, and raising twins. He also spent 4 years as an assistant professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, where he was named the university’s Outstanding New Teacher in 2010. Aaron joined the MAA as a graduate student, was a 2007 Project NExT Fellow (Sun Dot), served on the MAA Committee on Graduate Students, and is currently a member of the Golden Section.