Katy Huff named to leadership post in DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy

May 10, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


Kathryn D. "Katy" Huff, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), has joined the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy as principal deputy assistant secretary, the DOE announced today. Huff will also take on the title of acting assistant secretary.

Called to serve: Just after she was officially sworn in, Huff took to Twitter to break the news:

“I’m thrilled to finally share that today is my first day in the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy,” she said. “I’m honored that the Biden-Harris administration has called me to serve . . . during a crucial time in humanity's endeavors toward sustainability, re-imagination of our energy infrastructure, and centering of environmental and energy justice in technology policy. . . . In this position, I hope to work across institutional and other barriers, listen to many voices, strive boldly, and serve responsibly.”

Huff encouraged the nuclear community to engage with her on Twitter by asking open-ended questions, including: “What, specifically, would YOU like to see (or not see!) from @GovNuclear this year?”

CV in brief: Huff is taking an extended, unpaid leave of absence from her faculty position in UIUC’s Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering. She joined the department in 2016 and has led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group and served as a Blue Waters assistant professor with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Before her faculty appointment, Huff worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium at the University of California–Berkeley.

Huff earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her dissertation and postdoctoral work focused on the development of software for nuclear engineering applications such as the Cyclus simulator, PyNE, and extensions to MOOSE. Her research interests include modeling and simulation of advanced reactors, emphasizing scientific software engineering best practices.

A valued ANS member: An active member of the American Nuclear Society since 2008, Huff was elected to the ANS Board of Directors in April, but she has declined that position due to her new role with the DOE. She has held leadership positions in the Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy Division, the Mathematics and Computation Division, and the Young Members Group. She received the ANS Young Member Excellence Award in 2016 and the Mary Jane Oestmann Professional Women’s Achievement Award in 2017.

Craig Piercy, ANS executive director and chief executive officer, welcomed the news of Huff’s appointment. “Congratulations to Katy Huff for being named the principal deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary of energy at the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy,” Piercy said. “We at the American Nuclear Society look forward to her tenure as NE-2 and acting NE-1.”

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