Title and Affiliation:

Junior Fellow in Nuclear Policy, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

PONI involvement:

Nuclear Scholars Initiative and the PONI Conference Series

How has PONI impacted your career?

When I first entered the nuclear field and began to identify my interests, PONI shaped my standards for meaningful public discourse, especially diversity of thought. As one of the younger audience members not yet presenting a project, it seemed daunting to approach such complex subject matter and attempt to deliver original, impactful analysis without misstepping. I quickly learned, however, that conference participants were open and willing to be challenged. The goal was not to be perfect, but to prompt a discussion and learn from one another. PONI is promoting that standard for dozens of participants and changing the way that the younger generation engages. I’m always proud to participate in a discussion where everyone’s voice can be heard.

Describe one PONI activity you participated in?

My favorite PONI memory is certainly the reception dinner at the Fall 2016 Conference in New Mexico. The dinner was held at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. I grew up in New Mexico attending camp at the museum, and it was surreal to be back there in a professional capacity. Overall, I was extremely impressed by the participants in the Fall 2016 Conference; so many of them were based in my home state, and prior to that I had perhaps not fully conceptualized the vast nuclear expertise housed in New Mexico. At the time, I was working at Sandia National Laboratories, and by attending PONI, I met other Sandia employees that I otherwise would not have. The conference contextualized my work at Sandia and showed me its relevance to policy discussions. It really solidified my desire to work in the nuclear field.

What one piece of advice would you have for those interested in joining the nuclear field?

My advice would be to do things that scare you. If you’re nervous to present in front of a crowd or even raise your hand, you should absolutely do it. There are too many brilliant people who never speak up in public settings, despite having fantastic ideas that could move our field forward. The nuclear field is a place where numerous debates are always raging. Your voice in those discussions is important. It’s refreshing to see so many people speak up at PONI.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

Hmmm…. Tough question. I have the gene that makes it unbearable to eat cilantro, I’d like to live to be 110 years old, I’m a jazz and blues musician, and I have never been able to touch my toes. Hopefully one of these facts is fun!

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