Rachel Taow, who is the process modernization lead for the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) at Idaho National Laboratory, received an award in the category of law and finance during the 11th Annual C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium and Awards, held on November 2 in Washington, D.C. Taow has 16 years of government contracting experience—the last six spent with GAIN—and was nominated for the award by GAIN director Christine King.
The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Initiative was created in 2010 to close the gender gap in clean energy fields, and since 2012, outstanding mid-career women in clean energy have been recognized at the annual C3E symposium. Nine women received awards this year, including—for the first time in the 11 years of the C3E award program—a woman working to advance nuclear energy.
GAIN experience: At GAIN, Taow works on improving contracting mechanisms to modernize public-private partnerships and provide industry with efficient access to national laboratory resources, with a focus on commercializing nuclear technology. Taow spearheaded a new agreement model to facilitate multi-laboratory public-private partnerships, according to C3E, and contributed to the recommendation and adoption of a statutory extension (from five to 30 years) for protecting data developed under public-private research agreements.
Taow grew up in Idaho with a father who worked as a physicist at INL. After high school, Taow served in the U.S. Army for nine years as a Persian Farsi linguist and intelligence analyst. She developed an interest in nuclear energy while leading proposal efforts for research and development grants at her alma mater, Idaho State University. Now, in addition to her full-time work at GAIN, Taow is a law student, participating in a hybrid online J.D. degree program at New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law.
Nuclear energy gets respect: Mary Anne Sullivan, an energy regulatory lawyer at Hogan Lovells, introduced Taow during the award ceremony.
“I'm especially pleased because Rachel's accomplishments that won her this award are in the nuclear sphere, which is critical to the success of achieving a clean energy economy,” Sullivan said. “Nuclear energy does not always get the recognition it deserves in that area, although I must admit it got good attention this morning, so thank you to those who focused on the nuclear contribution.”
Taow stepped before the camera to share her thoughts on her career path and her work with GAIN. “Through GAIN, DOE continually improves their RD&D infrastructure available to stakeholders to achieve faster and more effective development of innovation in nuclear energy technologies geared toward commercial readiness,” she said.
“With GAIN, we interact with both nuclear entities and with communities that aren't necessarily nuclear but are considering transitioning to a cleaner energy source,” Taow added. “There can be a lot of anxiety associated with that, especially when you mention the word nuclear. But I can't help feeling optimistic about the innovations and opportunities that are available and that nuclear makes available.”
About C3E: The Department of Energy announced the winners of the 2022 C3E awards on October 4. The C3E Initiative is led by DOE in collaboration with the MIT Energy Initiative, Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, and the Texas A&M Energy Institute.
“For too long, there has been a significant gender gap in the energy sector, meaning half the population have had a minimized impact on one of our most important industries,” said energy secretary Jennifer Granholm. “As we transition to a clean energy economy, we will have to tap into the pool of amazing women working in energy and grow their ranks. That’s why DOE is proud to recognize the winners of this year’s C3E Awards, a diverse group of changemaking women tackling some of the biggest challenges in energy.”
Nominate a colleague: C3E is already accepting nominations for the 2023 C3E Awards. To learn more and to nominate a colleague, visit c3e.org/nominate.