Paul P.H. Wilson



419 Engineering Research Building
Madison, WI 53706

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Paul Wilson is the Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering in the University of Wisconsin-Madison‘s Department of Engineering Physics. His research interests focus on developing improved tools for computational modeling of complex nuclear energy systems, with applications in radiation shielding, nuclear waste management, nuclear non-proliferation and energy policy. Paul joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an assistant professor in August 2001 as part of the Energy Systems and Policy Hiring Initiative. Paul currently serves as Chair of the Energy Analysis and Policy Graduate Certificate and on the Governance Committee of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

In addition to the research pursued by his Computational Nuclear Engineering Research Group (CNERG), Paul has served in a number of advisory and consultant roles. From 2001-2003, he was a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Generation IV Technology Roadmap Committee. In 2010, he was engaged as a consultant to the CEA Saclay, ERC Petten, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Energy Future.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and raised in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada, Paul specialized in the Nuclear Power option of the Engineering Science program at the University of Toronto. After receiving his Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Science, he began his graduate schooling in nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After three years, he moved to Karlsruhe, Germany, where he studied in the Institute for Neutron Physics and Reactor Engineering (of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), earning his Dr.-Ing. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1998. Returning to Madison, Paul completed his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering in 1999.

Paul was the founding President of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear [NA-YGN], an organization created to provide unique opportunities to young professionals in all fields of nuclear science & technology. Paul has been active in the American Nuclear Society for over 20 years, and currently serves on its Board of Directors. Paul also represented the ANS and NA-YGN at the international climate change negotiations in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1998), and Bonn, Germany (1999). He is a member of the American and Canadian Nuclear Societies, the American Society for Engineering Education and the NA-YGN.

Paul is married and has two daughters. They enjoy biking around Madison’s paths and spending time outside.

Research Interests

In leading the CNERG Home Computational Nuclear Engineering Research Group, I am interested in applying modern computational science practices to answer real-world and/or policy-driven questions in nuclear engineering. There are three primary facets to this work:

  • We address real-world questions by helping scientists and engineers calculate more accurate radiation transport results on more exact representations of their problem and more easily combine those results with other analyses.
  • We address policy-driven questions by providing simulation platforms for realistic scenario analysis in the global deployment of advanced nuclear fuel cycles, including provisions for approximating non-technical perturbations to those scenarios.
  • We invoke modern computational science practices including adoption of software management tools and techniques, reliance on third party software libraries, and preferring open software solutions.


My primary teaching responsibilities are aligned with the research interests of CNERG:

I have been part of the faculty team who taught InterEng 102. Introduction to Society’s Engineering Grand Challenges on a number of occasions. Although this course is no longer offered, it used an interesting structure to introduce first year students to the role of engineering in society’s grand challenges through case studies and team projects.


Outreach is an important part of the work I do, informing a wide variety of people, from school children to neighbors to policy-makers, about the state of nuclear energy, past, present and future.


You can find me most Friday mornings at Mickie’s Dairy Bar where I have been attending for roughly 18 years with a group of nuclear engineering students and faculty. We now keep a kitty of surplus funds for use on special occasions.

Reference and recommendation letters

I am often asked to write reference or recommendation letters, or otherwise act as a reference, for current and former students. If you are seeking my support, please read my guidelines for providing recommendations/references.