Next Generation Safeguards Initiative Attracts University Students to Nonproliferation

Photo credit:  Los Alamos National Laboratory

Photo credit:  Los Alamos National Laboratory

In 2007, the Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) launched the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI) to develop the policies, concepts, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure necessary to sustain the international safeguards system as its mission evolves over the next 25 years. One of the major goals of this initiative is to develop the next generation of safeguards professionals who have the qualifications and experience necessary to tackle the emerging challenges facing the nuclear safeguards regime. To meet this goal, the NGSI Human Capital Development subprogram recruits, educates, and trains students from U.S. universities for safeguards positions at the national laboratories, encourages U.S. experts to seek employment at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and supports young and mid-career professionals new to the safeguards field.  To date, the program has sponsored more than 350 undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students in internship and research positions, and provided further safeguards education across the DOE/NNSA National Laboratory complex.

A key focus for the NGSI program is to ensure that incoming staff have the technical and policy expertise necessary to contribute effectively to the international safeguards system. One former intern, Amanda Rynes, spent a summer at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) developing a metric to assess proliferation risk using political, economic, and social factors in addition to technical capability. Through NGSI, she was able to participate in intensive training sessions, tour nuclear facilities, and gain hands-on experience with many of the tools and devices used in safeguards implementation today. She commented that “the NGSI internship program gave me a solid understanding of basic safeguards issues and technologies that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else.” Amanda, who was hired by INL following her internship, is currently on detail to the State Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Safety, and Security. She will begin graduate studies at the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations in the fall.

NGSI’s unique challenges require the cultivation of professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Evan Wyse, a former intern at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), used his background in economics to research alternative funding strategies available to the IAEA. He will present his findings on possible funding models to supplement the IAEA’s budget at the 2012 Institute for Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting. Evan’s background in Arabic has also allowed him to participate in NIS’s international engagement efforts, particularly in the Middle East. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Economics from the University of Washington, he was hired full-time at PNNL, where he conducts economic analyses in a nonproliferation context and continues to support NIS’s international engagement work.

Interested in participating in the NGSI internship program? Contact Melissa Scholz at melissa.scholz@nnsa.doe.gov.

Jul 17, 2012 at 11:00 am