Wesley Williams

Wesley C Williams

Group Leader, Advanced Reactor Systems Group, Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division

As Group Leader of the Advanced Reactor Systems Group, Dr. Williams brings a career of interdisciplinary system design and analysis experience spanning the nuclear and petroleum/chemical industries. His research work has revolved around process system safety with a focus on thermal-fluid systems and heat transfer. Current research interests of Dr. Williams are dynamic system modeling in the Modelica environment, development of system models as digital twins, and integration of dynamic models and high fidelity instrumentation (such as distributed fiber optic sensing) into real-time process and controls applications. He brings these interests together with his group to support advanced reactor designs and to broaden out in support of various energy industries.

Prior to starting at ORNL, Dr. Williams spent 7 years as a university professor in Louisiana, primarily teaching petroleum engineering at Louisiana State University where he was also the Director of the field-scale LSU Petroleum Engineering Research and Technology Transfer (PERTT) Laboratory. His time at LSU culminated in over $6.5MM in research funding, exemplified by a $4.91MM NASEM Gulf Research Program grant to study the gas-in-riser phenomenon, an important precursor to the BP Macondo accident. Prior to his return to academia, Dr. Williams spent 6 years working as a licensed professional engineering consultant for the petrochemical, midstream, and nuclear power industries.

Following in the footsteps of his Cold War Veteran maternal grandparents that came to East Tennessee to help build the Clinton Engineering Works in the 1940s, Dr. Williams started his career in engineering from a young age, helping out in the family business of land surveying and civil engineering in East Tennessee. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He continued his graduate work on modularizing Generation IV reactor concepts as a NESLE intern at ORNL under Jess Gehin. After which, he pursued and earned a PhD in Nuclear Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he helped to pioneer the study of nanoparticle colloids (nanofluids) for the enhancement of heat transfer under advisement of Jacopo Buongiorno and Lin-Wen Hu.