Richard Ibekwe

Graduate Student



Richard Ibekwe is a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. His research is in the development of high-temperature superconducting cables and magnets that are tolerant to dropouts (defects that cause a local drop in critical current density). His research is part of the SPARC project.



Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Doctor of Philosophy Candidate in Nuclear Science and Engineering with a focus in Fusion

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2018
Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering, and in Mechanical Engineering

Awards & honors

Commonwealth Fusion Systems and MIT Energy Initiative Fellowship, 2020
MIT Presidential Fellowship, 2018
MIT Roy Axford Award for academic achievement by an undergraduate senior, 2018
Honor societies: Tau Beta Pi (engineering), Alpha Nu Sigma (nuclear engineering), Pi Tau Sigma (mechanical engineering)

Work experience

MIT Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering, Spring 2020
Teaching Assistant
Undergraduate class in Fusion Energy

Nuclear Engineering Group, Imperial College London, Summers 2016–2018
Research Assistant
Simulated natural nuclear reactors, instances in the distant past in which uranium deposits spontaneously developed self-sustaining nuclear reactions. This work resulted in a peer-reviewed publication.

MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering, Fall 2016 – Spring 2018
Teaching Assistant
Undergraduate class in Mechanics & Materials

MIT Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering, Fall 2014 – Spring 2018
Research Assistant
Worked on Firebrick Resistance-heated Energy Storage (FIRES), which provides low-cost, large-scale energy storage as heat in firebricks


R. T. Ibekwe, C. M. Cooling, A. J. Trainer, M. D. Eaton. “Modeling the short-term and long-term behaviour of the Oklo natural nuclear reactor phenomenon.” Progress in Nuclear Energy, volume 118 (2020). 

R. T. Ibekwe, J. P. Cullerne. “Investigating the Mpemba Effect: when hot water freezes faster than cold water.” Physics Education, volume 51, number 2 (2016). This paper was included in the journal’s Highlights of 2016 collection for its “outstanding quality and valuable contribution to the physics-teaching community”.