Skip to main content

Michael D. Kaminski

Senior Nuclear Chemical Engineer

Expert in the nexus of chemical engineering, nuclear engineering, and nuclear chemistry with vast technical experience that spans from nanomaterials to nuclear waste to national security.


Dr. Kaminski is an internationally recognized expert in nuclear chemistry and radiological and nuclear materials with a record of innovation in nuclear waste management, nuclear chemical separations, functionalized microporous and nanoporous materials, and radiological threat response and recovery.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

  • Ph.D., Nuclear Engineering with a Geochemistry Minor; 1998
  • M.S., Nuclear Engineering/Radioactive Waste Management; 1996
  • B.S., Nuclear Engineering, Cum Laude; 1994


Innovator: Applies broad range of capabilities to create unique technical solutions in chemical separations; materials for biomedical applications; and radioactive materials detection, decontamination, and recovery

  • Pioneered the use of magnetic, polymeric microparticles for the separation and concentration of metals, producing highly cited papers in extraction of actinide, fission products, and heavy metals (1998-2012).
  • Led a multi-institutional team to study magnetic, biodegradable polymers and the first descriptions of these for removal of toxins in vivo, which quickly established his worldwide expertise (2001-2012).
  • First reported paragenesis and properties of radioactive colloids from the corrosion of aluminum-based fuels and uranium metal fuel exposed to ground water. First reported novel synthesis methods and heat transport characteristics for fission product and transuranic waste forms (2005-2016).
  • Knowledge of nuclear fuel reprocessing schemes and functionalized surfaces led to the development of novel schemes for detection of nuclear–related species that do not rely on radioactive emission for detection, thereby avoiding the confounding problem of intense background radiation and prohibitive detection levels.
  • Unique expertise in nuclear engineering, chemistry and geochemistry led to development of novel methods to effect the decontamination of the urban environment and his unique international program in urban radiological decontamination including development of unique materials, approaches and tools. Includes the Argonne Supergel (hydrogel decontaminant capable of removing radioactivity from porous building materials), IWATERS (decontamination process that uses common reagents and materials to wash down surfaces and simultaneously recycle the contaminated water), and Radiological Recovery Logistics Tool (RRLT) (computer program that helps organize and recommend equipment assets for an expedited recovery operation following a wide area release of nuclear contamination).

Thought Leader: In global research on radiological decontamination and recovery for urban settings

  • Highly regarded by US EPA sponsors for his extensive technical expertise and numerous contributions to USG capabilities to prepare for and respond to radiological incidents including tools to prioritize cleanup efforts, expedite recovery, and optimize resources,” and his ability to combine technical aptitude with to create practical approaches, guidelines and tools.
  • Worldwide recognition in urban resiliency led to collaborations with Israeli, British, Canadian, Swiss, and Singaporean allies and as the subject-matter expert (SME) for DoD and DHS, resulting in an invitation to serve on the IAEA mission First Experts Meeting in Fukushima, Japan (2016).
  • Hosted the first of its kind, International Workshop on the Use of Municipal and Commercial Equipment for Radiological Response and Recovery where SMEs from the U.S, the United Kingdom and Switzerland met to discuss the use of existing equipment reserves to compress the response timeline and recover from a radiological or nuclear contamination event in an urban environment (2016).
  • Launched an initiative to establish an International Technical Working Group for CBRN Mitigation and Recovery. With co-founders from Switzerland and the United Kingdom, recruited 30 participants representing 13 countries since launch in Nov. 2019.  Currently finalizing the first position paper and initial working group structure on this effort (2019).

Mentor: Influences and invests in the next generation of diverse scientists and engineers.

  • Served as advisor for more than a dozen graduate students and post-doctoral appointees and mentored 20 undergraduate students. Current team consists of a Postdoctoral appointee, a Doctoral student and a Doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois (Dept. of Physics, and Dept. of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering), and two Argonne Associates. Includes diverse gender and ethnic minorities.
  • Co-founder (2003), Past Vice President and long-standing President (since 2010) of the Argonne Hispanic/Latino Club (HLC) Employee Resource Group (ERG). Under his leadership, the HLC has grown to approximately 80 official members per year for almost ten years. Initiated program that established five Chicagoland Hispanic youths scholarship programs and distributed more than $40,000 in scholarships.
  • Speaks at Career Day events held at local grade, middle, and high schools and is initiating a program to help provide minority professionals to local schools to improve community outreach at the Laboratory.


  • Technical achievements awards include: Sun-Times Innovation Award; Council for Chemical Research Collaboration Award; Outstanding Technical Achievement Award (HENAAC -Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Conference); Hispanic Power Hitters in Technology and Business; and 40 under 40 in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” 
  • Argonne HLC (under Dr. Kaminski leadership) was the inaugural winner of the Argonne WIST Diversity Award in 2011.
  • University of Chicago Board of Governors Pinnacle of Education Award in 2014.
  • Nominated for The Richard S. Hodes, M.D. Honor Lecture Award, 2020 at Waste Management Symposia.


  • Serves as Program Manager and Principal Investigator under the DOE Offices of Nuclear Energy and Environmental Management, DHS, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. EPA, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Navy, as well as internally funded seed grants and projects funded by other DOE Laboratories.
  • Funded by the US EPA for important work in nuclear and radiological response and recovery.
  • Brought in $24,900,000 of total funding to the Laboratory from his research leadership and innovation ($15,901,000 for his research team alone) (2001-2020). 
  • Program manager and principal investigator for a multi-disciplinary team developing a Logistics Tool for DHS-FEMA that helps understand equipment options and allocate them for an expedited response and recovery following a wide area release of radioactive material. This highly regarded project recently received multi-year funding. (2018-)
  • Holds an Adjunct Associate Professor position at the University of Illinois in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering; Fellow in the Argonne-University of Chicago Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology; and Laboratory Point of Contact for Water Sensors.


  • U.S. Patents Issued (8); Inventions Disclosed (32); Publications (247) including journal articles (67), book chapters (3), reports (47), presentations (145), and magazine and news articles (12).
  • Patent space: radiological surface decontamination, radiological response and recovery, materials for medical therapies.
  • Over 2300 citations in niche areas of study (H-index = 26, i10 index=56) ranks above the average Full Professors at the top ranked U.S. university departments of Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering.