Alumni Spotlight: Stephen Taller ’09
Academy Alum Receives Distinguished Fellowship
Indiana Academy alum Stephen Taller (2009) has received the prestigious Weinberg Fellowship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory(ORNL). The highly competitive Weinberg Fellowship honors Dr. Alvin M. Weinberg, who was the longest serving director at ORNL from 1955 to 1973. The fellowship to cultivate future scientific leaders is awarded to new and leading young scientists and engineers at ORNL with interests in energy and energy-related science and technology challenges.
Taller credits his Indiana Academy physics instructor, Stephen Schuh, for putting him on the path to become a nuclear engineer. It was during one of his classes that Taller recalls Schuh beginning the lecture with a question: Why does the sun shine? Schuh then proceed to discuss nuclear fusion and fission during the lecture, and this sparked Taller’s interest to continue learning more about the energy stored in atoms.
“I still remember some of his lectures and referenced the notes from his classes (AP Physics B and C) in undergrad and partially into graduate school,” Taller says of his former Academy instructor. “I was able to skip a few physics classes at Purdue but needed the notes when the material came up in later classes.”
After graduating from Purdue, Taller went on to the University of Michigan where he earned his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences in January 2020. Taller was then selected to join ORNL almost right out of his Ph.D. program.
Receiving the Weinberg Fellowship at ORNL will allow Taller to continue his research into radiation effects in commercial nuclear materials and emerging material systems with a goal of seeing options for safe and sustainable nuclear energy. ORNL is located near Knoxville, Tennessee, and it is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory.