Miss Wisconsin: Breaking down misconceptions about nuclear

September 23, 2022, 12:05PMANS NewsGrace Stanke

Grace Stanke in front of the cooling towers at the Byron generating station during this spring’s outage.

"Miss Wisconsin" and "nuclear engineer" are two phrases you have probably never heard in the same sentence before. And not just Wisconsin—it’s never been heard in any state. As Miss Wisconsin 2022, I will be the first nuclear engineering student ever to compete for the title of Miss America, an iconic position for which thousands of women across the country strive (which pays six figures and has the potential of thousands of dollars in scholarship earnings).

Over the summer, in an attempt to help find another opportunity to offset the cost of the last year of my education, I competed for the title of Miss Wisconsin for the second time. I was lucky enough this time to be selected for the job after competing against 22 candidates in the interview, talent, social impact pitch, red carpet wear, and onstage question events.

As Miss Wisconsin, I will travel thousands of miles across the state to attend community events, visit schools, and lead speaking engagements related to the Miss America Organization, my social impact initiative, and my career in nuclear energy. My social impact initiative, “Clean Energy, Cleaner Future,” promotes America’s transition to zero-­carbon energy with an emphasis on nuclear power, because I believe it is the best path forward as our major power source.

Fusion veteran Barabaschi selected as ITER director general

September 23, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Capping a session in Paris, the ITER Council has unanimously selected Pietro Barabaschi as the new director-general of the ITER Organization. The Italian-born Barabaschi, who has been involved in nuclear fusion research for some 30 years, was chosen to lead the massive international fusion project following an intensive recruitment effort necessitated by the death of Bernard Bigot, the previous director general, in May. Since Bigot’s death, Eisuke Tada has been serving in the role in an interim capacity. Barabaschi will take office in October.

F4E leader: Barabaschi has been the head of the Broader Approach Programme and Delivery with Fusion for Energy (F4E) since 2008. F4E is the EU organization responsible for Europe’s contribution to ITER. In this position, he has been managing the department that oversees three projects stemming from the Broader Approach agreement between the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the government of Japan: the JT-60SA tokamak, the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility/Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities linear accelerator, and the International Fusion Energy Research Centre . Barabaschi has also been acting director of F4E.

NRC chairman visits ANS student section at University of Puerto Rico

September 21, 2022, 12:00PMANS News
Highlights from Chairman Hanson’s visit with the ANS student section at UPRM. (Photos: NRC/Twitter)

The American Nuclear Society student section at the University of Puerto Rico—Mayagüez (UPRM) recently welcomed Christopher T. Hanson, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. While at UPRM, Hanson met with graduate students conducting nuclear-related research, as well as with deans, professors, and other university officials. He also delivered a speech, “Preparing to Regulate the Nuclear Technology of the Future.”

Profile focuses on Curio CEO and nuclear waste reprocessing

August 22, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Ed McGinnis, Curio CEO. (Photo: Curio)

Ed McGinnis, the chief executive officer of nuclear innovation startup Curio, is looking to solve the nuclear waste problem. In a profile published by CNBC, McGinnis says that nuclear waste is “a huge, huge unresolved problem representing pretty much the largest ball and chain on the ankle of the U.S. nuclear energy sector [which is] trying to transition itself for the next generation of reactors.” Curio, which has developed its NuCycle technology for chemically processing nuclear waste, is hoping to “rebrand nuclear as a means of unlocking the full potential of human ingenuity and aspiration,” according to the company’s website.

Public support for nuclear energy is highest among plant neighbors

August 16, 2022, 7:04AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Ninety-one percent of residents living near U.S. nuclear power plants have a favorable impression of those plants, according to Bisconti Research’s ninth biennial survey. In addition, 88 percent of those residents have positive opinions of nuclear energy in general, and 78 percent would support the addition of a new reactor at their neighboring plant—a number that increases to 86 percent if the new reactor is a small modular reactor.

Nominations for 2022 ANS Winter Meeting awards due

July 28, 2022, 3:00PMANS News

At every national meeting, the ANS Honors and Awards Program recognizes outstanding achievements and meritorious service in the various fields served by our Society. The deadline for submission of nominations for the upcoming Winter Meeting awards is Monday, August 1.

The recipients of this year’s national awards will be honored on November 13 during the opening plenary of the ANS Winter Meeting. Honorees will be notified of their selection by October.

All members are encouraged to review the nomination requirements for these awards and consider nominating a qualified colleague. This is the key step in ensuring that the ANS Honors and Awards program is aware of highly qualified individuals’ achievements so the Society may recognize their contributions. Many ANS awards are open to non-ANS members, and nominating people who are not members is one way to foster new ANS relationships.

New Miss Wisconsin is nuclear energy advocate

June 27, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear energy will have an unusually prominent platform in December, when the new Miss Wisconsin, Grace Stanke, competes in the Miss America 2023 competition at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Stanke, who is a nuclear engineering student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an ANS student member, was crowned on June 18. For her social impact initiative speech, Stanke, expressed a desire to advocate for the use of green energy—especially nuclear energy—during her one-year reign as Miss Wisconsin.

Craig Piercy discusses ANS response to war in Ukraine

June 2, 2022, 12:01PMANS News


The Association Forum recently highlighted the American Nuclear Society’s rapid response to the unfolding events in Ukraine earlier this year. Kim Kelly of the group’s Forum Magazine conducted an interview with ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy, who described the Society’s efforts to address public safety concerns and correct media reports regarding Ukraine’s nuclear power plants in the early days of the war. Piercy also discussed joint efforts between ANS and the European Nuclear Society (ENS) in setting up a relief fund to help workers in Ukraine’s nuclear energy industry.

Giving accurate information: Piercy noted that “existing international ties and bilateral ties we [ANS] have with other countries really came into play as the Ukraine invasion unfolded.” The Society had a team of nuclear experts in place, some with direct experience in Ukraine, to reach out to media outlets, answer media requests for information, and quickly correct inaccurate information that was reported.

Daniel Stout named CNO of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation

May 12, 2022, 12:03PMANS News


Newly elected ANS board member Daniel Stout has been named chief nuclear officer of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, based in Seattle, Wash. In the CNO position, Stout will oversee and support USNC’s nuclear operations, including licensing and regulatory compliance efforts, reactor and power plant manufacturing planning, and management of client support operations and fleet services. Previously, Stout was director of nuclear technology and innovation for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

A long résumé: Stout has worked in the nuclear energy sector for more than three decades in planning and budgeting, licensing, and developing reactors and associated infrastructure. At TVA, he managed the organization’s small modular reactor project, recently obtaining an early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the potential deployment of SMRs at TVA’s Clinch River site.


Elon Musk: Shutting down nuclear plants is “total madness”

March 31, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


In a wide-ranging interview published by Business Insider on March 26, Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX, repeatedly referred to efforts to shut down nuclear power plants as “crazy” and “madness.” Musk spoke with Mathias Döpfner, chief executive officer of Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer. Musk also discussed his views on the war in Ukraine, climate change, space travel, self-driving cars, humanoid robots, artificial intelligence, religion, and philanthropy.

Germany's mistakes: In discussing the Ukraine conflict and Western Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies, Döpfner referred to “strategic mistakes that Europe, particularly Germany, has made [such as] the dropout of nuclear energy in 2011.”

Musk responded, “It is very important that Germany will not shut down its nuclear power stations. I think this is extremely crazy.”

ANS webinar focused on developing next-generation nuclear workforce

March 22, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

The ANS Education, Training and Workforce Development Division hosted a webinar titled “Securing a Strong Workforce for the Next Generation of Reactors” on March 16. The webinar covered actions being taken to prepare the future nuclear workforce for the construction and operation of next-generation reactors in the late 2020s and early 2030s.

Senate panel vets Biden’s pick to lead DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy

March 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nominated to lead the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 17.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met yesterday to consider the nomination of Kathryn Huff to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). President Biden selected Huff to fill the top spot at NE in January.

Join ANS for the virtual event, “Securing a Strong Workforce for the Next Generation of Reactors”

March 15, 2022, 12:00PMANS News

The ANS Education, Training and Workforce Development Division is hosting a webinar titled “Securing a Strong Workforce for the Next Generation of Reactors,” to be held on Wednesday, March 16, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (EDT).

Register now. The webinar is complimentary and open to all.

ANS to host webinar highlighting the Black community in nuclear

February 8, 2022, 6:59AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society will host a one-hour webinar this Thursday, February 10, at 2:00 p.m. EST, celebrating “Black Excellence in the Nuclear Field.” The free webinar will be moderated by Lisa Marshall of North Carolina State University and will feature former U.S. assistant secretary for nuclear energy Warren “Pete” Miller, X-energy’s Jeff Harper, Idaho National Laboratory’s J’Tia Hart, and Booz Allen Hamilton’s Christina Leggett.

Entergy Nuclear's grants benefit neighboring communities

February 1, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In 2021, Entergy Nuclear provided dozens of grants, totaling $415,527, to nonprofit agencies in communities where Entergy’s nuclear plants operate, as well as its headquarters in Jackson, Miss. Overall, grants were awarded in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Michigan, the company announced on January 31.

The grant program administered through the nuclear plants focuses on funding education, literacy, healthy families, arts and culture, and other community improvement initiatives.


Rita Baranwal joins Westinghouse as chief technology officer

January 20, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear News


Westinghouse Electric Company has appointed ANS member and Fellow Rita Baranwal chief technology officer to drive next-generation solutions for existing and new markets that align with the company’s strategy.

Baranwal’s appointment marks her return to Westinghouse, where she worked for nearly a decade in leadership positions in the global technology development, fuel engineering, and product engineering groups.

Huff nominated to fill role of assistant secretary of energy for DOE-NE

January 19, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News


Kathryn “Katy” Huff, who is currently serving as the Department of Energy's principal deputy assistant secretary of nuclear energy, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to head the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy as assistant secretary of energy. The role has been vacant since Rita Baranwal announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.

Sustained commitment: Since Huff was named principal deputy assistant secretary of nuclear energy in May 2021, she has also served as acting assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy.

Huff is on unpaid leave from her role as associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group. Huff was also a Blue Waters assistant professor with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Prior to joining the NPRE faculty at UIUC, Huff was a postdoctoral fellow in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Science and Security Consortium and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at the University of California–Berkeley. Huff received her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2013, and her undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Chicago.