Michael Ames

Michael Ames
Group Leader, Neutron Activation & Elemental Analysis


Sc.D. Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1995
M.S. Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986
B.S. Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1984

Scientific and Research Interests

Michael Ames has spent many years as a researcher at the MIT Nuclear Reactor Lab: initially from 1984–2000 alternately a student and research staff member with various lab groups, and since 2011 as a research scientist with the In-Core Experiments (ICE) and the Neutron Activation & Elemental Analysis groups. His scientific and research interests are built on his many years as a researcher at the MITR and his experience as an environmental consultant.

In-Core Experiments and Characterization of Irradiated Materials

Since 2011 Dr. Ames has been a research scientist with the MITR In-Core Experiments (ICE) group. He designs, builds, and carries out a variety of in-core experiments focused on testing new materials and analytical methods including research on:

  • Structural and fuel-related materials for use in future high-temperature fluoride salt-cooled reactors (FHRs),
  • Silicon carbide and advanced composites for use in current light water reactors, and
  • New sensor materials and methods for in-core use.

Dr. Ames’ early research at the MITR was part of the Coolant Corrosion Loop group which designed, built, and operated the first in-core loop experiments at the MITR. He was also a member of the Alloy Development for Irradiation Performance group which developed and tested the pre-, and post-irradiation performance of materials for fusion reactor first wall applications.

Neutron Activation and Elemental Analysis

Dr. Ames is the leader of the MITR Neutron Activation & Elemental Analysis group which provides trace elemental analyses of a wide range of materials in support of research at MIT and the broader scientific community. The primary tools for these analyses are the MITR neutron irradiation and gamma spectroscopy facilities which are combined to enable extremely sensitive determinations through Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA). He also operates and trains users on the MITR Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES). His doctoral and post-doctoral research was with the MITR Environmental Research and Radiochemistry (ER&R) group where he performed extensive research in the collection and analysis of trace elements in environmental samples, most notably atmospheric mercury.

Transport and Fate of Environmental Contaminants

Prior to his return to the MITR in 2011, Dr. Ames spent eleven years at the small consulting firm Cambridge Environmental. His work there focused on modeling the atmospheric and multipathway (i.e., food chain) transport of environmental contaminants from their sources to potential human and ecological receptors. The goal of this modeling was the quantitative assessment of hazards and risks to human and ecological health.

Selected Publications and Reports

Findings of the Second Round of Fluoride Salt High Temperature Reactor Materials Irradiation Tests at the MIT Research Reactor, D. Carpenter, M. Ames, G. Kohse, Y. Ostrovsky, and L. Hu, Proceedings of the 2015 International Conference on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants: ICAPP (2015).

Status of the Fluoride Salt High Temperature Reactor Materials Tests at the MIT Research Reactor, D. Carpenter, M. Ames, Y. Ostrovsky, G. Kohse, and L.-W. Hu, Conference Proceedings of the European Research Reactor Conference (RRFM) (2015).

Minor and Trace Elements in Flibe after Purification and Corrosion Testing, M. R. Ames, Trans. American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting, San Antonio (2015).

Fluoride Salt High-Temperature Reactor Materials Irradiation Test at the MIT Research Reactor, D. Carpenter, M. Ames, G. Kohse, Y. Ostrovsky, and L. Hu, Proceedings of the 2014 International Conference on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants: ICAPP (2014).

Determining whether landfill gas poses risks to health, S.G. Zemba, M.R. Ames, and L.C. Green, Proceedings of the WASTECON 2010 conference, Solid Waste Association of North America (2010).

An assessment of the environmental and public health impacts of Omya’s operations in Florence, Vermont: Integrated report, D. Adilman, M.R. Ames, S.R. Armstrong, L.G. Copley, L.C. Green, R. Hartzel, B. Holmén, J. Klens-Caprio, R.R. Lester, S.P. Roy, R. Swift, M. Tyler, P. Zeeb, and S.G. Zemba, Cambridge Environmental Inc. and Geosyntec Consultants, Inc. (2008).

Risk Assessment for the evaluation of multi-pathway and ecological impacts of emissions from the Harrisburg Materials Energy, Recycling and Recovery Facility, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, M.R. Ames, S.G. Zemba, A. Shifrin, R.R. Lester, and L.C. Green, Cambridge Environmental Inc. (2007).

Comments on “Proposed methodology for particulate matter risk analyses for selected urban areas” by Abt Associates, Crouch, E.A.C., Zemba, S.G., Ames, M.R., and Green, L.C., Cambridge Environmental Inc. (2002).

What's wrong with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5)?, L.C. Green, E.A.C. Crouch, M.R. Ames, and T.L. Lash, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 35, 327-337 (2002).

A quantitative health risk assessment for the Kalamazoo River PCB site, E.A.C. Crouch, M.R. Ames, and L.C. Green, Cambridge Environmental Inc. (2001).

Al and Fe in PM2.5 and PM10 suspended particles in South-central Florida: the impact of the long range transport of African mineral dust, J.M. Prospero, I. Olmez, and M.R. Ames, Water, Air and Soil Pollution 125, 291-317 (2001).

Toxic substances from coal combustion: A comprehensive assessment, A. Kolker A.F. Sarofim, C. Palmer, C.L. Senior, F.E. Huggins, G. Dunham, G.P. Huffman, J. Helble, J. Lighty, J.O.L. Wendt, M.R. Ames, N. Shan, N. Yap, R. Finkelman, R. Mamani-Paco, R. Sterling, S. Miller, S. Mroczkowski, S. Swenson, and W. Seames, Federal Energy Technology Center, Morgantown, WV (2000).

Distribution of trace elements in selected pulverized coals as a function of particle size and density, C.L. Senior, T. Zeng, J. Che, M.R. Ames, A.F. Sarofim, I. Olmez, F.E. Huggins, N. Shah, G.P. Huffman, A. Kolker, S. Mroczkowski, C. Palmer, R. Finkelman, Fuel Processing Technology 63(2-3), 215-241 (2000).

Receptor modeling for elemental source contributions to fine aerosols in New York State, M.R. Ames, G. Gullu, J. Beal, and I. Olmez, Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 50(5), 881-8 (2000).

Canadian and U.S. sources impacting the atmospheric particulate mercury concentrations across New York State, I. Olmez, M.R. Ames, and G. Gullu, Environmental Science & Technology 32, 3048-3054 (1998).

Physical and chemical characterization of atmospheric ultrafine particles in the Los Angeles area, L. Hughes, G.R. Cass, J. Gone, M.R. Ames, and I. Olmez, Environmental Science & Technology 32, 1153-1161 (1998).

A comparison of atmospheric mercury in the vapor-phase, and in fine and coarse particulate matter at Perch River, New York, M.R. Ames, G. Gullu, and I. Olmez, Atmospheric Environment 32, 865-872 (1998).

Atmospheric mercury: how much do we really know?, I. Olmez and M.R. Ames, Pure and Applied Chemistry 69, 35-40 (1997).

A methodology for determining vapor phase mercury by instrumental neutron activation analysis, M.R. Ames, I. Olmez, S. Meier, and P. Galvin, Managing Hazardous Air Pollutants: State of the Art, Eds. W. Chow and K. K. Conner, Lewis Publishers (1994).

Mercury determination in environmental materials: methodology for instrumental neutron activation analysis, I. Olmez, M.R. Ames, and N.K. Aras, Proceedings: The Measurement of Toxic and Related Air Pollutants, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1993).

In-pile PWR loop coolant chemistry studies in support of dose reduction, G.E. Kohse, R.G. Sanchez, M.J. Driscoll, M.R. Ames, and O.K. Harling, Proceedings: The Second JAIF International Conference on Water Chemistry (1991).

Neutron irradiation scoping study of twenty-five copper-base alloys, O.K. Harling, N.J. Grant, G.E. Kohse, M.R. Ames, T.-S. Lee, and L.W. Hobbs, Journal of Materials' Research 2(5), (1987).

Microstructural evolution and swelling of high strength, high conductivity RS-PM copper alloys irradiated to 13.5 dpa with neutrons, T.-S. Lee, L.W. Hobbs, G.E. Kohse, M.R. Ames, O.K. Harling, and N.J. Grant, Journal of Nuclear Materials 141-143, 179-183 (1986).

Mechanical property and conductivity changes in several copper alloys after 13.5 dpa neutron irradiation, M.R. Ames, G.E. Kohse, T.-S. Lee, N.J. Grant, and O.K. Harling, Journal of Nuclear Materials 141-143, 174-178 (1986).