Dr. Denis E. Beller

Research Professor of Nuclear Engineering

Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Phone: 702-895-1452
Fax: 702-895-3936

Research Interests:


Denis E. Beller (Ph.D., Purdue Univ., 1986; M.S.N.E, Air Force Inst. of Tech., 1981; B.S.Ch.E., Univ. of Colorado, 1976) has a background in engineering design and analysis and in management of defense systems. Dr. Beller's research activities have included design and analysis of conceptual systems for nuclear effects testing with inertial confinement fusion, conceptual design of nuclear-pumped lasers, systems studies of long-term national and global deployment of nuclear energy, and formulation and testing of solid rocket propellants (including rockets that were used in Operation Desert Storm). He also managed a rocket test facility, a nuclear detection laboratory that monitored radioactive emissions to support Safeguard D of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and an intelligence division that collected and disseminated foreign science and technology information. After graduation from Purdue in 1986, Dr. Beller was a professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology, where he taught graduate nuclear engineering (weapons effects) to military officers for almost eight years. As a result of teaching, research, and professional activities, the faculty selected him as the first tenured military professor in AFIT's 70-year history. After retirement from the USAF, he worked for Los Alamos National Laboratory, which lead him to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Here he coordinated university participation for UNLV´s Transmutation Research Program for reducing, reusing, and recycling used nuclear fuel ("waste"). He is now a Research Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UNLV and a Visiting Research Professor at Idaho State University (Reactor-Accelerator Coupling Experiments (RACE) Project). His current research funding includes modeling experiments and preparing to conduct new ones in support of the International [nuclear] Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Program, the LANL Criticality Experiments Facility, high-energy neutron detector development, and particle analysis for nuclear forensics.

However, Dr. Beller is best known amongst the nuclear science and technology community as the co-author, with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Richard Rhodes, of an essay that, according to the U.S. Congressional Record (July 27, 2000), " … sparked renewed debate on nuclear energy´s role" as a non-emitting domestic energy source. "The Need for Nuclear Power" appeared in the Jan/Feb 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs, and it was republished in modified form in The Bulletin of the International Atomic Energy Agency (6/2000) and in Earth Times Conference News Daily (7/16/2001). It has been cited in columns and op-eds in newspapers (e.g. the Washington Post) and on web sites worldwide for more than two years. It has also been entered into the Congressional Record twice (once during Senate testimony for the budget for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, once during a House hearing on environmental benefits of nuclear power). Dr. Beller has spoken in many fora, including a presentation to Congressional staffers in the U.S. Capitol in May 2000, a public lecture during the month-long Marie Curie Celebration in Michigan in October 2000, at many universities, and to local sections of the American Nuclear Society and Trout Unlimited. Some of these presentations have resulted in lengthy, pro-nuclear articles in local newspapers. Dr. Beller has also appeared in debates about nuclear power and waste disposal on National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting System TV. In May of 2002 he organized the pro-nuclear side of and participated in a debate that was arranged for the media in the living room of Paul Newman´s and Joanne Woodward´s apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City.