Within the first few weeks of 2021, the nuclear industry is experiencing leadership transitions at both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with the departure of Chairman Kristine L. Svinicki and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy with the departure of Assistant Secretary Rita Baranwal. Chairman Svinicki and Dr. Baranwal have each had tremendous impacts on the nuclear industry through their continued participation in high impact research and development, as fierce advocates for nuclear policy, and for creating seats at the table for women to participate in major decision-making.
Chairman Svinicki’s thirty years of federal service have helped shape a modern image of nuclear power through state and federal levels of government in a wide array of nuclear subtopics. She played key roles in advancing public policy and initiatives related to national security, science and technology, and energy and the environment. Approaching the final days of her time with the NRC, Chairman Svinicki stated that she “sincerely wish[es] the women and men of the NRC staff every continued success as they build upon the proud legacy of their predecessors, while transforming the NRC into a modern, risk-informed regulator ready to address the nuclear technologies and challenges of tomorrow.”
Dr. Baranwal’s multi-decade career in the nuclear field has been both deep and broad, spanning hands-on engineering for naval reactor technology to direction of the Idaho National Laboratory’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN). “It has been an absolute honor to serve in this capacity to help advance our U.S. nuclear energy R&D,” she tweeted. “I plan to continue to use my talents to promote, lead, and advance our nation’s largest source of clean energy so that our nation and my family will have a cleaner and more sustainable planet to protect.” Dr. Baranwal has joined the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) as Vice President of Nuclear, Chief Nuclear Officer.
U.S. Women in Nuclear applaud the leadership and service of both Chairman Svinicki and Dr. Baranwal. Their legacies have created opportunities for all nuclear experts to serve in key leadership roles, and we are immensely grateful for each of their unique contributions.