Kim Knight

Staff Scientist
Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division
Phone: +19254229396


  • Ph.D., Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley, 2006
  • B.A., Geology, Carleton College, 1997

Research Interests

Kim Knight is a staff scientist at LLNL focused on nuclear forensic research. A geochemist by training, she remains endlessly fascinated with radioactive materials. Knight worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory prior to joining LLNL in 2008. Knight is primarily involved with the analysis of nuclear and associated materials to better understand clues about the origins, locations, or processes. She has been instrumental in the renaissance of historical fallout research to better understand fallout formation and interpretation of historic nuclear events. She presently leads a Strategic Initiative focused on the fundamental science to understand the influence of different environments on the chemsitry and physics of a nuclear explosion. The project investigates fundamental processes (e.g., entrainment, oxidation chemistry, effects of environment) that perturb the radionuclide inventory captured in post-detonation debris. This work develops the scientific basis necessary for improved interpretation of radiochemical data, supporting national goals in stockpile stewardship and nuclear threat reduction as well as operational response and environmental transport.

In addition to her own research, Knight has mentored numerous PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, and welcomes academic collaboration.


  1. Bullock, E.S., K.B. Knight, F.M. Richter, N.T. Kita, T. Ushikubo, G.J. MacPherson, A.M. Davis, R.A. Mendybaev, ‘Mg and Si isotopic fractionation patterns in types B1 and B2 CAIs: Implications for formation under different nebular conditions’, Meterotics & Planetary Science, 48:8, 1440-1458, 2013.
  2. Cassata, W.S., S.G. Prussin, K.B. Knight, I.D. Hutcheon, B.H. Isselhardt, P.R. Renne, ‘When the dust settles: When the dust settles: stable xenon isotope constraints on the formation of nuclear fallout’, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 137, 88-95, 2014.
  3. Crowhurst, J.C., J.R. Jeffries, D. Åberg, J.M. Zaug, Z.R. Dai, W.J. Siekhaus, N.E. Teslich, K.S. Holliday, K.B. Knight, A.J. Nelson, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘A combined theoretical and experimental investigation of uranium dioxide under high static pressure’, J. Phys.: Condensed Matter, 27:26, 265401, 2015.
  4. Crowhurst, J.C., M.R. Armstrong, K.B. Knight, J.M. Zaug, E.M. Behymer ‘Invariance of the dissipative action at ultrahigh strain rates above the strong shock threshold’, Phys. Rev. Lett., 107 144302 1-5, 2011.
  5. Dai, Z., J.C. Crowhurst, C.D Grant, K.B. Knight, V. Tang, A.A. Chernov, E.G. Cook, L.P. Lotscher, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Exploring high temperature phenomena related to post-detonation by an electric arc’, J. Applied Phys., 114, 204901, DOI 10.1063/1.4829660, 2013.
  6. Eppich, G., K.B. Knight, T.W. Jacomb-Hood, I.D. Hutcheon, G.D. Spriggs, ‘Actinide (U-Th-Pa) concentrations and isotopic disequilibrium in surface soils and glassy fallout beads from historical nuclear tests’, Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management, 2013.
  7. Eppich, G.R., K.B. Knight, T.W. Jacomb-Hood, G.D. Spriggs, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Constraints on fallout melt glass formation from a near-surface nuclear test’, Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, DOI 10.1007/s10967-014-3293-9, 2014.
  8. Fitzgerald, M.A., K.B. Knight, J.E. Matzel, K.R. Czerwinski, ‘Interpreting Mixing Relationships in Energetic Melts to Estimate Vapor Contribution and Composition’, Chem. Geo., 507, 96-119, 2019.
  9. Griffiths, G., E. Keegan, E. Young, A. Wotherspoon, T. Palmer, K. Lu, J. Davis, J. Alexander, L. Jolly, N. Nevers, F. Delaunay, J.M. Collins, I. Dimayuga, A. Bergeron, P. Samuleev, Z. Dai, K. Holliday, M. Robel, K. B. Knight, ‘Physical characterization of uranium oxide pellets and powder applied in the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group Collaborative Materials Exercise 4’, J. Radioanal. Nuc. Chem.,, 2018.
  10. Holliday, K.S., J.M. Dierken, M.L. Monroe, M.A. Fitzgerald, N.E. Marks, R.C. Gostic, K.B. Knight, K.R. Czerwinski, I.D. Hutcheon, J.W. McClory, ‘Plutonium segregation in glassy aerodynamic fallout from a nuclear weapon test’, Dalton Transactions, DOI: 10.1039/c6dt04184a, 2016.
  11. Hutcheon, I.D., M.J. Kristo, K.B. Knight, ‘Nonproliferation Nuclear Forensics’, Uranium – Cradle to Grave, Mineralogical Association of Canada, 377-394, 2013.
  12. Isselhardt, B.H., D.G. Willingham, M.R. Savina, K.B. Knight, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Progress in the Development of RIMS for Quantifying Actinide Isotope Ratios for Nuclear Forensics Applications’, Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management, 2013.
  13. Isselhardt, B.H., M.R. Savina, A. Kucher, S.D. Gates, K.B. Knight, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Improved precision and accuracy in quantifying plutonium isotope ratios by RIMS’, J. Radioanal. Nucl. Chem., DOI 10.1007/s10967-015-4393-x, 2015.
  14. Isselhardt, B.H., M.R. Savina, K.B. Knight, M.J. Pellin, I.D. Hutcheon, S.G. Prussin, ‘Improving Precision in Resonance Ionization Mass Spectrometry: Influence of Laser Bandwidth in Uranium Isotope Ratio Measurements’, Anal. Chem., 83, 2469–2475, 2011.
  15. Isselhardt, B.H., S.G. Prussin, M.R. Savina, D.G. Willingham, K.B. Knight, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Relative Ionization Probabilities for Resonance Ionization Mass Spectrometry: The Influence of Laser Induced Bias on Uranium Isotope Ratios’, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., DIU: 10.1039/c5ja00249d, 2016.
  16. Kita, N.T., T. Ushikubo, K.B. Knight, R.A. Mendybaev, A.M. Davis, F.M. Richter, J. Fournelle, ‘Internal 26Al-26Mg isotope systematics of a type B CAI: Remelting of refractory precursor solids’, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 86, 37-51, LLNL-JRNL-485617, 2012.
  17. Knight, K.B., E.S. Vergino, O. Gaidar, D.V. Kutniy, G.V. Lysychenko, I.A. Malyuk, A.A. Valter ‘Strengthening International Nuclear Forensic Capabilities through Collaborative Science in Ukraine’, Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management, 2011.
  18. Knight, K.B., M.R. Savina, B.H. Isselhardt, I.D. Hutcheon, S.G. Prussin, M.J. Pellin, ‘Uranium Resonance Ionization Mass Spectrometry in Natural U-silicate’, Proc. Radiochim. Acta, 1, 37-43, 2011.
  19. Knight, K.B., M.R. Savina, S.G. Prussin, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Multi-Actinide Isotopic Measurements from a Single Sample by Resonance Ionization Mass Spectrometry’, Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management, 2011.
  20. Knight, K.B., N. Kita, R.A. Mendybaev, F. Richter, A.M. Davis, J.W. Valley, ‘Si isotope fractionation of CAI-like vacuum evaporation residues’, Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta 73, 6390, 2009.
  21. Koroglu, B., M. Mehl, M.R. Armstrong, J.C. Crowhurst, D.Z. Weisz, J.M. Zaug, Z. Dai, H.B. Radousky, A. Chernov, E. Ramon, E. Stavrou, K. Knight, A.L. Fabris, M.A. Cappelli, T.P. Rose, ‘Plasma flow reactor for steady state monitoring of physical and chemical processes at high temperatures’, Review of Scientific Instruments, 88, 093506, 2017.
  22. Kristo, M., E. Keegan, M. Colella, R. Williams, R. Lindvall, G. Eppich, S. Roberts, L. Borg, A. Gaffney, J. Plaue, K. Knight, E. Loi, M. Hotchkis, K. Moody, M. Singleton, Robel, M., I. Hutcheon, ‘Nuclear forensic analysis of uranium oxide powders interdicted in Victoria, Australia’, Radiochim. Acta, 103(7), 487-500, 2015.
  23. Kristo, M.J., A.M. Gaffney, N. Marks, K. Knight, W.S. Cassata, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Nuclear Forensic Science: Analysis of Nuclear Material Out of Regulatory Control’, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. doi: 10.1146/annurev-earth-060115-012309, 2016.
  24. Lewis, L.A., K.B. Knight, J.E. Matzel, S.G. Prussin, M.M. Zimmer, W.S. Kinman, F.J. Ryerson, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Spatially-resolved analyses of aerodynamic fallout from a uranium-fueled nuclear test’, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 148, 183-195, 2015.
  25. Pacold, J.I., A.B. Altman, K.B. Knight, K.S. Holiday, M.J. Kristo, S.G. Minasian, T. Tyliszczak, C.H. Booth, D.K. Shuh, ‘Development of Small Particle Speciation for Nuclear Forensics by Soft X-ray Scanning Transmission Spectromicroscopy’, Anal. Meth., DOI: 10.1039/c7an01838j, 2018.
  26. Pacold, J.I., W.W. Lukens, C.H. Booth, D.K. Shuh, D.K., K.B. Knight, G.R. Eppich, K.S. Holliday, ‘Chemical speciation of U, Fe, and Pu in melt glass from nuclear weapons testing’, J. Applied Phys., 119, 195102, 2016.
  27. Parsons-Davis, T., J. Wimpenny, C.B. Keller, K. Thomas, K.M. Samperton, P. Renne, R. Mundil, K. Moody, K. Knight, M.J. Kristo, R. Williams, ‘New Measurement of the U-238 Decay Constant with Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry’, J. Radioanal. Nuc. Chem.,, 2018.
  28. Parsons-Davis, T., K. Knight, M. Fitzgerald, G. Stone, L. Caldeira, C. Ramon, M. Kristo, ‘Application of Modern Autoradiography to Nuclear Forensic Analysis’, J. Forensic Sci.,, 2018.
  29. Spriggs, G.S., K.B. Knight, R. Gostic, ‘Characterization of Activity-Size-Distribution of Nuclear Fallout’, Stockpile Stewardship Quarterly 2:1, 3-4, 2012.
  30. Valter, A. A., K. B. Knight, G. K. Eremenko, D.V. Magilin, A. A. Ponomarov, A. I. Pisansky, A.V. Romanenko, A.G. Ponomarev, ‘Spatial investigation of some uranium minerals using nuclear microprobe’, Phys. Chem. Min.,, 2018.
  31. Weisz, D., B. Jacobsen, N.E. Marks, K. B. Knight, B.H. Isselhardt, J.E. Matzel, ‘Diffusive Mass Transport in Agglomerated Glassy Fallout from a Near-Surface Nuclear Test’, Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta, 223, 377-388, 2018.
  32. Weisz, D., B. Jacobsen, N.E. Marks, K.B. Knight, B.H. Isselhardt, J.E. Matzel, S.G. Prussin, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘Deposition of Vaporized Species onto Glassy Fallout from a Near-Surface Nuclear Test’, Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta, 201, 410-426, 2017.
  33. Willingham, D., M.R. Savina, K.B. Knight, M.J. Pellin, I.D. Hutcheon, ‘RIMS Analysis of Ion Induced Fragmentation of Molecules Sputtered from an Enriched U3O8 Matrix’, J. Radioanalytical Nuc. Chem., DOI 10.1007/s10967-012-2028-z, 2012.
  34. Wimpenny, J., N. Marks, K. Knight, J.M. Rolison, L. Borg, G. Eppich, J. Badro, F.J. Ryerson, M. Sanborn, M.H. Huyskens, Q. Yin, ‘Experimental determination of Zn isotope fractionation during evaporative loss’, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 259, 391-411, 2019.