Dr. George Apostolakis on Risk-Informed Regulatory Decision-Making: March 7th at UIUC

Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) is a key pillar in the Risk-Informed Regulatory Decision-Making framework of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). A growing number of other U.S. government agencies are evaluating the use of PRA for decision making and policy setting. Dr. George Apostolakis, former Commissioner of the NRC has had a distinguished career as a professor, an engineer, and risk analyst. During his time at the NRC, he headed the Risk Management Task Force, whose purpose was to “develop a strategic vision and options for adopting a more comprehensive, holistic, risk-informed, performance based regulatory approach” (Apostolakis, Cunningham, Lui, Pangburn, & Reckley, 2012). In the taskforce’s seminal work, NUREG-2150, a vision for the evolution of PRA in Regulatory Decision-Making is laid out, and a Risk Management Regulatory Framework for improving safety and security in high-consequence industry applications is proposed.

As a research team dedicated to advancing PRA, the Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Laboratory contributes to the vision put forth in NUREG-2150, to develop risk models that provide “credible accident sequences by considering the facility or operation as a “system of systems” consisting of structures, systems, components, and personnel” (Apostolakis et al., 2012). Due to the socio-technical nature of risk in complex systems, SoTeRiA Laboratory has initiated several areas of research to meet demands faced by industry, including; risk-informed emergency preparedness, planning and response modeling for severe accidents, fire PRA, location-specific Loss-Of-Coolant Accident (LOCA) frequency estimations, global risk importance measures, modeling the effects of human and organizational influences on technical system failure, estimating the monetary value of PRA, , and developing a risk-informed resolution of Generic Safety Issue 191, a long-standing issue for commercial nuclear power plants and the NRC. In a time where over-standardization in regulations is an important topic in the public narrative, risk-informed approaches can have significant impacts on safety improvements, cost-reductions and sustainability of high-consequence industries.

The Honorable George Apostolakis will present at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Grainger Lecture Series on March 7th, at 12:00 p.m. in Talbot Laboratory Room 103. Please see the flier below for more information.


Later in the day on March 7th, at 3:00 PM in Beckman Institute 2269-2nd Floor Tower Room, there will be an Informal Student Discussion with Dr. Apostolakis where students are encouraged to bring questions and discuss their multidisciplinary research.

See Flier Here



Apostolakis, G., Cunningham, M., Lui, C., Pangburn, G., & Reckley, W. (2012). A Proposed Risk Management Regulatory Framework. NUREG-2150, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, April.



Assistant Professor Zahra Mohaghegh of the Department of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), is a recipient of the university’s 2016 Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising. This award is in recognition of the important role that advisors play in the academic planning process of engineering students on campus and is given to the top 10 percent of engineering advisors.

See the NPRE article for more information:


SoTeRiA Laboratory Opens a Graduate Research Assistant Position for Computational and Multidisciplinary Risk Analysis

View SoTeRiA Research Opportunity

The Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Laboratory (http://soteria.npre.illinois.edu/) at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) has an open graduate research assistant position, and is seeking a professional, hard-working, creative, and collaborative student to join the laboratory. The candidate will work on projects funded by the National Science Foundation (http://soteria.npre.illinois.edu/research/research-subpage-3/). Based on the candidate’s background, potential home departments for the graduate student can include: Computer Science (http://cs.illinois.edu/), Informatics (http://www.informatics.illinois.edu/), or an associated Engineering department (http://engineering.illinois.edu/). The candidate’s research will directly contribute to the scientific advancement of Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) used in diverse industries and in risk-informed decision making and regulation. The research candidate needs to have strong computational skills for designing, developing, validating, benchmarking and operationalizing Risk Analysis tools.

The candidate should be comfortable to work in the following areas:

  • High-Performance Computing projects on large distributed multi-core supercomputing NCSA resources
  • Large Volume Data Management of Unstructured Heterogeneous Documents (e.g., cleaning and coding a text corpus)
  • Advanced Data Visualization (e.g., yt; http://yt-project.org/)
  • Object Oriented Programming
  • Multiscale Simulation
  • Software Application and GUI Development

Proficiency in Python and R is required. Knowledge on using Python for integration with other languages is required. Experience with Java is preferred. Experience with C languages, Matlab, and FORTRAN is a plus. The candidate should have working knowledge of the Linux environment and how to write script files.

The candidate should have a strong research ethic, capable of documenting the development of code for maximum reproducibility and maintaining a high level of scientific excellence. This research provides the student with the opportunity to gain multidisciplinary risk analysis knowledge and experience. The student will work under the supervision of Professor Zahra Mohaghegh, and collaborate with the dynamic and interdisciplinary team of the SoTeRiA Laboratory. Please contact the SoTeRiA Lab if you are interested in this opportunity (riskanalysis@illinois.edu).