The Senate has confirmed ANS member Kathryn Huff as the next assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the Department of Energy. The bipartisan vote, held earlier this afternoon, was 80–11.
President Biden selected Huff in January to fill the top spot at NE—a post that has been vacant since Rita Baranwal (also an ANS member) announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.
Huff came to the DOE in May of last year to serve as principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy, going on unpaid leave from her position as an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group.
At her March 17 hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Huff vowed to “prioritize activities to preserve the existing fleet of nuclear power plants, deploy advanced reactor technologies, and sustainably manage spent nuclear fuel, as well as work with our international partners to support technological transfer and American innovation.”
The "No" votes: Those voting against Huff's confirmation were Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), John Hoeven (R., N.D.), Mike Lee (R., Utah), Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Rand Paul (R., Ky.), Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), Rick Scott (R., Fla.), John Thune (R., S.D.), and Tommy Tuberville (R., Ala.).
At ANS: A member of the Society since 2008, Huff was elected to the ANS Board of Directors in April 2021 but declined that position when she assumed her duties at 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.
“On behalf of over 10,000 professionals in the fields of nuclear science and technology, the American Nuclear Society congratulates Dr. Huff on being confirmed by the Senate to be the DOE’s nuclear energy secretary,” said ANS President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy in a joint statement. “Building upon her extensive work in academia and in government, Dr. Huff has already proven herself a leader and advocate for clean nuclear energy. We look forward to Dr. Huff’s tenure as ‘NE-1’ and are confident that Dr. Huff will continue to advance nuclear energy’s critical role in securing affordable, reliable, and emissions-free energy for Americans and the world.”