David E. Moncton

David E. Moncton
David E.
Director, MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory

David Moncton is currently the director of the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Adjunct Professor of Physics. Under his tenure as director, the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory was relicensed for 20 years of operations at an increased power (6 MW). He advanced the concept of a national user facility for nuclear energy studies in partnership with the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. To serve a diverse user community, he redirected the MIT reactor research program toward in-core experiments studying the properties of materials and fuels in a radiation environment similar to power reactors. A major program is the study of molten salt as a coolant for a new generation of high-temperature reactors.

From 1987 until September 2001, Moncton was the Associate Laboratory Director with overall responsibility for the Advanced Photon Source project at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. He directed the design, construction, and operation of the $800 million national user facility, which produces the nation's most brilliant x-ray beams for materials research, condensed-matter physics, chemistry, and biological, pharmaceutical, and medical research. Under Moncton’s leadership, the Advanced Photon Source project was completed in 1996, under the original cost estimate and 6 months ahead of schedule. It now serves over 2500 scientists yearly from 150 American research institutions, universities, and industries.

In 1999, he was appointed Executive Director for the Spallation Neutron Source, a $1.4 billion user facility operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. During the two-year assignment, Moncton re-engineered the project’s technical design, recruited substantial new talent, instituted much-improved project management systems, turned around the project’s reputation in Congress, and initiated on-site construction. Now fully operational, the SNS is the most advanced neutron source in the world, providing unique and detailed information on the structure and dynamics of a wide range of physical, chemical, and biological materials.

Moncton's research interests lie in two primary categories: (1) X-ray and neutron scattering studies of novel states of matter, and their associated phase transitions and dynamics, especially in superconductors, and (2) the development of new facility concepts and experimental techniques for producing and using photon and neutron beams. He received the Department of Energy's Ernest Orlando Lawrence Memorial Award in 1987 for his development of high-resolution synchrotron X-ray scattering techniques and their applications to diverse materials systems. In 1985, his magnetic X-ray diffraction work, “Synchrotron X‑ray Studies of the Magnetic Structure of Holmium,” was named the Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment in Solid State Physics in the Department of Energy's Materials Research Competition.

Moncton served on a Study Group of the American Physical Society on Boost Phase Intercept for National Missile Defense, which won the 2005 APS Leo Szilard Award. He was a recipient of Argonne’s Compton Award in 2013 for development of top-up operation of synchrotron storage rings. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has been a consultant to various industrial, academic, and governmental research laboratories. Moncton has served on many advisory committees to the DOE, to the NSF, and to numerous national and international institutions.

Before joining Argonne, Moncton was a Senior Research Associate at the Exxon Research and Engineering Co. Previously, he was an experimentalist and group leader at Brookhaven National Laboratory and a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories.

Moncton holds a B.S. in engineering from Cornell University, and an M.S. and PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT, he studied under Prof. Clifford Shull, the 1994 Nobel Laureate in Physics, while doing his research at the MIT Reactor and the High Flux Beam Reactor at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Moncton is the author of over 100 scientific publications and three patents. He and his wife Nancy have two adult children and reside in Newton, Massachusetts.