Technical Support (Nuclear Operations) - Chemical

Samantha J Aycock

Nuclear Analytical Technician

Samantha Aycock received her associate degree in Applied Science from Roane State Community College in May 2017.  She joined the staff in July 2021 as an Assistant Technician in Nuclear Operations at the Transuranium Analytical Laboratory (TAL) of the Chemical Sciences Division (CSD).  Prior to joining the TAL, she worked as an Operations Technician at the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at ORNL as a subcontractor from November 2019 until July 2021. Over the past almost two years, Samantha has steadily increased her roles and responsibilities within the TAL while supporting nuclear isotope production at the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center (REDC).  She has been a primary participant in the TAL’s support of REDC’s R&D and production projects including Pu-238 Production Project (and Np-237 Reprocessing), Cf-252/Bk-249 Campaigns (and Cm-244 reprocessing), Pm-147 purification, Ni-63 purification, U-233 Rescue Program, and many smaller isotope purifications runs.

Samantha has proven herself to be a highly motivated technician that has pursued every opportunity to gain qualification in our analytical procedures, gain valuable experience in high level nuclear operation protocols, and gain expertise in the operations of our radiochemistry suite.  She is a very driven individual, eager to take on new challenges and assume leadership opportunities in the future.  Samantha is a quick learner and very detail oriented which has made her fit into our organization perfectly.  She has the perfect amount of caution and respect for the hazards of high-level nuclear operations, yet the confidence that she has developed over the past two years to truly excel in our fast-paced quick turn radiochemistry laboratory.  Samantha has already taken the initiative to serve as a member of the PSD Technicians Council which is a great opportunity for her to represent our laboratory in the ORNL policy discussions held with our ALD.

Samantha was recently awarded the Department of Energy Secretary’s Honor Award for service and contribution to the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Radioisotope Power Systems Team.


Technical Excellence/Productivity

  • Samantha has assumed a shift technician position therefore he has been a primary technician responsible for prepping, counting, and reporting the bulk of isotope production campaign samples.
  • Makes decisions while working at the hot cell and inside gloveboxes can impact not only our lab’s ability to stay in operation, but REDC’s ability as a facility to stay operational, and ORNL’s reputation within the nuclear industry.  
  • Relied upon to daily make decisions based on her knowledge of an irradiated material’s dose, contamination risk, isotopes present, concentrations expected, and matrixes present. 
  • Fully qualified to perform the TAL’s entire portfolio of analytical methods and work aids.
  • Supported high impact projects/campaigns in 2022; ORNL’s Pu-238 Production for DOE/NASA, REDC’s Cf-252/Bk-249 Production, and Pm-147 production.
  • Serves on PSD Technicians Council.