PhD research in nuclear engineering, Julio Guiseppe Vazquez Chavez

Julio Giuseppe Vazquez Chavez

Why did you choose to study for a PhD at the University of Leeds?

After finishing my MSc in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Leeds, I wanted to join a meaningful research program where my topic can make a difference to the world. I looked for different programs around the world for almost six months, until I found out that the nuclear department of Leeds was focused on spent nuclear fuel (SNF) reprocessing. I strongly believe nuclear reprocessing will ensure long term sustainability of nuclear fission and reduce nuclear waste considerably.  

Tell us about your research

Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is a technology developed to efficiently close the nuclear fuel cycle and reduce nuclear waste. The topic of my research is voloxidation, which is considered the first step for reprocessing spent fuel from light water reactors. Voloxidation is a pyrochemical process, which promises to remove most of the volatile fission products, while allowing to reuse fissile materials. The aim of my research is developing an efficient low-temperature model for de-cladding zirconium alloy rods and voloxidation of uranium oxide pellets.  

What is your favourite part of studying at Leeds?

My favourite part is everything. I am enjoying my research a lot, and my life outside the School. Honestly, I have never had such a healthy balance between work and life.

What activities do you take part in outside of your studies?

It depends on my mood, but I usually do sports in the afternoon, such as going to the gym, boxing, golfing, meditation, and yoga. During the weekends, I try to go away to the countryside for long walks and a cold beer.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I’m just starting my second year of my PhD, so I do not have any specific plans for the future. At the moment, I’m not in a rush to look for something else, I am just focused on finishing my PhD on time.   

Any advice for prospective students?

I just have two pieces of advice for prospective students. Firstly, make sure to be really curious about your research topic. Honestly, I don’t think anyone can finish a PhD if the curiosity for their subject is gone. Lastly, learn time management, so you can spend time doing other activities with family and friends. Trust me, it’s good for the mind.