A conversation with Grace Stanke, Miss America 2023

August 24, 2023, 12:06PMNuclear NewsJames Conca

“I see nuclear energy as the obvious path forward, and it confuses me as to why everybody else doesn’t. That’s the primary goal with my Miss America policy platform of ‘clean energy, cleaner future.’”

Recently I sat down with Grace Stanke, the current Miss America and a student at the University of Wisconsin in nuclear engineering exploring subjects like nuclear fuel enrichment and reactor performance (as well as being a virtuoso violinist, for good measure).

This year she’s touring the country advocating for clean energy in a cleaner future and for America to reach net zero with the help of nuclear power, while correcting misconceptions and improving communication about nuclear science and encouraging young women to pursue STEM careers.

We talked just after she had finished visiting the Hanford Site while she was on her way to appear at Town Hall Seattle at the request of grassroots pronuclear group Friends of Fission Northwest. I was impressed with the depth of her knowledge and her ability to communicate difficult issues in a concise manner that didn’t require any deep background to understand. I mean, who knows the intricacies of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant? I was tempted to ask her to run for president.

New senior manager of STEM programs begins at ANS

June 20, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News


The American Nuclear Society is invested in growing the nuclear community through its K-12 STEM programs like the STEM Academy and Navigating Nuclear. Craig Piercy, ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, noted that when he speaks with engineering and technology students, “Most of them chose to go into nuclear because they believe in the power of the technology to help people. So, the core question is this: How do we inspire and educate a new, larger generation of professionals? It has to start at the K-12 level.”

To further this goal, the Society has brought on Uchenna Ezibe as senior manager of STEM programs. Ezibe, who has spent his career in education or STEM program management, has a clear passion for STEM education and a natural curiosity about nuclear science and technology and is very excited to help grow ANS’s educational programs.

SRS alliance brings STEM offerings to K-12 students

June 8, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Gary Senn and Kim Mitchell assist second graders from Chukker Creek Elementary School in Aiken, S.C., with a STEM project.

For almost four decades, the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina and the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at the University of South Carolina–Aiken (USC Aiken) have partnered to bring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to the area's kindergarten through 12th grade students.

NNSA makes awards to nine STEM consortia

April 12, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has awarded nine new grants totaling $40.8 million to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to promote the development of a diverse, highly skilled, and enduring stream of students in STEM fields who may find careers with the NNSA. Each grant that was awarded has a three- to five-year period of performance.

DOE makes efforts to develop an inclusive STEM workforce

March 28, 2023, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Participants in a job fair at the recent 2023 Waste Management Symposia visited a booth hosted by DOE representatives. A virtual component of the job fair is available through March 31. (Photo: DOE)

More than 300 employees from the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management (EM) have recently retired, resulting in a large amount of job vacancies across the cleanup program, according to the DOE.

EM’s Workforce Management Office is implementing recruitment efforts to fill the vacancies with college graduates, early career professionals, mid-career candidates, and seasoned veterans.

According to the DOE, "The open positions offer opportunities across many different disciplines, including engineering, science, business, management, safety and information technology."

Entergy’s WIN chapter honored for promoting nuclear science

March 15, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Women in Nuclear chapter at Entergy Nuclear has been recognized by the U.S. WIN organization as the “most reactive” for its educational outreach efforts conducted during last year’s Nuclear Science Week.

The annual award recognizes significant achievements in promoting nuclear science in the community. U.S. WIN chapters are judged on the number of activities held during Nuclear Science Week, the number of participating WIN members, the number of individuals and public sectors reached, and the variety of topics covered.

The launch of the ANS STEM Academy

February 14, 2023, 7:01AMANS News

The new ANS STEM Academy launched at the end of 2022 encompasses all of the American Nuclear Society’s educational programs. It brings together a state-of-the-art curriculum with nuclear experts and enriches classroom experiences to enable a national expansion of K-12 nuclear science and technology education. The new program strives to serve educators, students, and everyone interested in nuclear science and technology.

WM Symposia announces STEM Champions Challenge

February 6, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Waste Management Symposia (WMS), which hosts the annual Waste Management Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., is launching a new effort along with Longenecker & Associates to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education efforts to attract and build the next-generation nuclear workforce. The engineering, environmental, and nuclear services company Spectra Tech is joining the initiative by matching Longenecker & Associates' contributions to the program.

DOE expands minority partnership program for post-doctoral researchers

March 1, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management recently announced the expansion of its Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program for post-doctoral researchers.

The program will offer the opportunity for recent graduates with Ph.D. degrees to perform scientific research that furthers technology development, enhances the global scientific knowledge base, and results in publishing in peer-reviewed journals.

Piercy's opening remarks at the ANS Winter Meeting

January 19, 2022, 7:04AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

ANS ended 2021 on a high note with our first post-pandemic national meeting, held in Washington, D.C. What follows is a lightly edited version of remarks, shorn of opening and closing pleasantries, that I gave to 500-plus attendees during the opening plenary session:

I think the big question everyone will be asking this week will be some form of “How did you spend the pandemic?” I can tell you how ANS spent the pandemic: on a strict quarantine diet and fitness program.

We’ve figured out how to maintain what we believe is a higher level of service on 20 percent fewer FTEs. We’ve rebuilt our digital infrastructure and have a firm path forward toward a modern data architecture. We are in the process of selling our headquarters building in La Grange Park, Ill., and moving to a smaller, more manageable footprint in suburban Chicago, with an outpost in Washington, D.C.

NNSA expands Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program

November 24, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has awarded nine grants totaling $38.8 million to build more partnerships with minority-serving institutions (MSIs), leverage untapped students, and expand its talent pipeline. Known as the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP), it now has 24 active consortia partnerships encompassing 46 schools.


August 27, 2021, 10:10AMPress Releases

With back-to-school season upon us, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) is excited to announce that our Navigating Nuclear: Energizing Our World curriculum now reaches all grade levels and can be accessed at ans.org/navigatingnuclear.

ANS participates in virtual Waste Management Symposia

March 9, 2021, 9:29AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society has a strong presence at the virtual Waste Management Symposia 2021 (WM2021), March 8-12, 2021. It is the first time the event is being held virtually, a decision made by the organizers with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in mind.

ANS’s involvement: ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy is among the presenters of awards, including those for the best oral and poster presentations/papers from last year’s event. ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar is a featured speaker in a STEM panel. She will discuss ANS’s Navigating Nuclear program during the “Setting the Hook: Partnering to Reel in STEM Students Early” panel on Thursday. The presentation is one of three panels dedicated to STEM initiatives for younger students.

House committee spearheading “Scientific Solutions” tweetstorm today

January 27, 2021, 7:04AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is leading a one-day social media campaign today to highlight the importance of leading with science and scientific solutions as the committee works to provide support for science and the scientific community. The “tweetstorm” will run from noon to 5 p.m. (EST) and will involve a variety of science-related organizations, including the American Nuclear Society.

Organizations are being asked to post messages on their social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) related to five categories:

  • American leadership in STEM
  • Environmental justice
  • Combating the climate crisis
  • Scientific integrity
  • COVID-19

Three hashtags have been created for the campaign: #ScientificSolutions, #SolvingtheClimateCrisis, and #EnvironmentalJusticeforAll.

John Gilligan: NEUP in support of university nuclear R&D

December 30, 2020, 7:07AMNuclear NewsRick Michal

John Gilligan has been the director of the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) since its creation in 2009 by the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE). NEUP consolidates DOE-NE’s university support under one program and engages colleges and universities in the United States to conduct research and development in nuclear technology. The two main R&D areas for NEUP funding are fuel cycle projects, which include evolving sustainable technologies that improve energy generation to enhance safety, limit proliferation risk, and reduce waste generation and resource consumption; and reactor projects, which strive to preserve the existing commercial light-water reactors as well as improve emerging advanced designs, such as small modular reactors, liquid-metal-cooled fast reactors, and gas- or liquid-salt-cooled high-temperature reactors.

Baranwal reviews virtual STEM lessons for U.S. tribal communities

November 24, 2020, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe


In a blog post to the Department of Energy’s website on November 23, Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, commended recent virtual lesson projects from the Office of Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Energy Tribal Working Group to increase STEM opportunities for Native American tribes.

The spotlighted lesson discussed in the article focused on a 3D-printed clip that turns a smartphone or tablet into a microscope with the ability to magnify items by 100 times. The Office of Nuclear Energy shipped nearly 1,000 of these microscope clips to students across the country, many of them going to U.S. tribal communities.

Foratom sounds alarm over nuclear skills shortage in Europe

October 2, 2020, 2:59PMNuclear News

The European Union’s education and training policy must do more to ensure that the nuclear sector has a sufficient number of people with the right skills, according Nuclear: Investing in a Competent Workforce for the Benefit of Society, a new position paper from Foratom. The Brussels-based Foratom is the trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe.

Stressing the vital roles that nuclear plays in low-carbon power generation and medical diagnosis and treatment, Foratom warns of a growing skills shortage, stemming in part from the significant portion of the nuclear workforce approaching retirement age.

In addition, the report states that “adapting to digitalization and automatization (which are important skill shifts for the decommissioning sector, as well as for new build) will be a challenge faced by the industry. This will require the reskilling and upskilling of workers, as well as ensuring an adequate transfer of knowledge between generations through apprenticeship schemes, for instance.”