Thanks to a generous donation from Margaret S. Y. Chu, a member of the American Nuclear Society since 2000, the ANS Distinguished Service Award will now honor Milton Levenson, ANS past president (1983–1984) and Fellow who died in 2018. Chu’s career path intersected with Levenson many times over a 13-year span through their work as consultants. Following his death, Chu wanted a way to honor the man she described as “an extraordinary scientist who dedicated over 70 years of his life to nuclear energy.”
She said it: “Milt was admired by colleagues for his innovative approach to solving complicated problems and for his honesty, integrity, and passion for science,” said Chu, managing director of M.S. Chu & Associates, in New York City. “I was always awestruck by the breadth and depth of his knowledge and his unusual ability of cutting to the chase of complicated issues.”
The man: Levenson was an ANS member for more than 50 years and was elected in 1983 as the Society’s 29th president. He had a long and successful 73 years in the industry, beginning his work experience at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1944, mostly focused on nuclear reactor safety and fuel processing.
Levenson served as a research engineer as part of the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge from 1944 to 1948; during part of that time (1944–1946) he was also in the U.S. Army. In 1948, he moved to Illinois to work at Argonne National Laboratory, from where he retired as associate laboratory director in 1973.
Levenson then moved to the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., where he served as the first director of the nuclear power division, a post he held until 1980. From 1981 to 1988, he served as executive consultant to Bechtel Power Corporation and became vice president of Bechtel International in 1984, a position he kept until 1989. In 1990, he began work as a private executive consultant and ended his career as a senior technical advisor to the weapons safety program of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
It was in that capacity that Levenson and Chu crossed paths. Chu said that she first met him in 2002 when she was director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. From 2005 until Levenson’s death in 2018 at age 95, they often worked together on various projects as consultants.
The award: The ANS Milton Levenson Distinguished Service Award recognizes ANS members who have contributed in an outstanding manner to the vigor of the Society or who have made outstanding nontechnical contributions to the nuclear field. Such contributions might include development and understanding or extension of the goals and policies of the Society, outstanding leadership in and for the Society, or other nontechnical contributions to the Society’s aims in any area.
The first recipient of the newly renamed award is Kevin R. O’Kula. An official announcement will be made during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting, which begins November 16.