Kaara first arrived to ORNL as a SULI summer student in 2010 analyzing the flow of processing radioactive waste for the ITER project. She returned in January 2011 working for Areva Federal Services assisting in research on capture of volatile fission products released during treatment of used nuclear fuels. She continued to support projects in the Process Engineering Research (PER) group while completing her master's degree in chemical engineering. She worked as a post-master's student through ORAU in PER assisting in several uranium processing unit operations for non-proliferation research until September 2015.
From September 2015 to January 2019, she worked at the Y-12 National Security Complex in the Development organization supporting uranium and lithium processing research for their facility modernization, along with other special research efforts. This experience further honed her materials and processing knowledge
Kaara returned to ORNL in 2019 to work at the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center (REDC). She was able to continue working with uranium for certain customers as well as join the NASA Pu-238 production team, studying oxide production and pellet fabrication from previous subject matter experts. She became group leader in April 2022, and the team moved to the new Isotope Processing and Manufacturing Division in June 2022.
April 2022 - Present: Group Leader for Materials Operations (formerly Target Production)
January 2019 - April 2022: Radiochemical Engineer at REDC
September 2015 - January 2019: Specialty Engineer at Y-12 National Security Complex, Development Division
March 2013 - September 2015: Post-Master's Research Associate at ORNL
January 2011 - December 2012: Areva Federal Services contracted to work at ORNL
Summer 2010: SULI Intern
M.S. Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville
B.S. Chemical Engineering with concentration in bio-molecular from the University of Tennesee, Knoxville
American Institute of Chemical Engineers - Current Chair (2023) of local Knoxville-Oak Ridge section
Modified Direct Denitrator (MDD) - specialty rotary kiln for production of neptunium oxide suitable for ceramic metallic (cermet) pellet production
Sol-gel system operator
Previous experience with SEM and XRD