Saul Levine

Saul Levine ( - 1984) was a dominant force in the Regulatory Staff of the old AEC in the 1960s. During much of that time, the division of Reactor Licensing, as it was known then, consisted of three groups: Reactor Projects, Reactor Standards, and Reactor Technology; Saul Levine headed Reactor Technology, the technical arm of the regulatory Staff. Virtually every major decision made by the Regulatory Staff during the 1960s passed his desk and bore his imprint. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Saul Levine learned reactor technology and the management of complex projects through the Naval Reactor Program, his work as project manager of the Polaris Program, and his graduate work at MIT where he received the Nuclear Engineer’s Degree.

Saul Levine was the Project Staff Director for the Reactor Safety Study from 1972 to 1976. In this position, he ran the study on a day-to-day basis, discussing progress and approaches with Professor Norman Rasmussen. In a testimonial to Saul Levine published in the proceedings of the ANS Topical Meeting PSA-85 shortly after his death in 1984, Norman Rasmussen stated, “As we all know the final report of the project, the Reactor Safety Study, is sometimes referred to as the Rasmussen Report. It more properly should be referred to as the “Levine-Rasmussen report.”

After the Reactor Safety Study, Saul Levine became Deputy Director, then Director of the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In this role, he forged many of the international ties for cooperative research that still exists and was responsible for a research program of greater than $200m per year. While the details of important research conducted under his leadership in the areas of materials, thermal hydraulics, structural engineering, seismic responses, and severe accident phenomena have filled several books, perhaps his greatest legacy rests in the area of risk assessment. Rather than let the insights gained from the first study wither, Saul Levine promoted an active research effort to develop further the ability to assess risks, and, more importantly, how to use that information in a regulatory concept. He saw the potential benefit of its use to improve the fabric of regulation well before anyone else in industry or government. Examples of his leadership in this regard include the first risk-informed prioritization of generic safety issues in 1978 and the study of the reliability of auxiliary feedwater systems.

Saul Levine had one of the finest grasps of technical mattes of anyone we have known. Quite simply, though not tall, he was a giant. His imprint is on most, if not all, of the early regulatory approaches upon which we still depend. Saul’s personality was also gigantic. He learned some of his management skills from Admiral Rickover. Excellence was expected.

Saul Levine had a feature that is beginning to become increasingly rare - he was a leader and most of his troops would have followed him anywhere. Working for him was exciting; it was inspiring; it was following a leader who could instill a sense of purpose. Once you worked for Saul Levine, you were never the same. His sense of dedication became part of you.

In the same testimonial referenced above, Norman Rasmussen said it best: “I know of no one who had a better insight into the broad issues of reactor safety. In addition, he had the ability to organize and carry out a major project within the constraints of the government bureaucracy...Saul was a contributor and one of its best thinkers on our most difficult problems.”

In 1980, Saul Levine retired from federal service and became Vice President of NUS Corporation. In this role, he continued to promote the use of risk insights to improve the efficiency of nuclear power plants by using the as a tool to focus resources for their effective use. He assembled a team of highly-regarded experts and successfully introduced PRA thinking to several clients both international and domestic.

Saul Levine had a great interest in training and education. During his years of service in the position of Director of Research of NRC, he continued and strengthened the NRC program of support for training and education that had been started by his predecessor Herbert Kouts. Saul was also very much personally involved in training and education, serving as a lecturer in numerous courses and workshops. In fact, he was active to the very end. He passed in 1984 while serving as a lecturer in a course on nuclear safety.

Sponsoring Organization or Individual

Nuclear Installations Safety Division (NISD)

Selection Process

A selection committee will be established by the Nuclear Installations Safety Division

Academic Level

Graduate (Masters or Ph.D.)


1 awarded annually @ $3,000/each

Special Selection Criteria, Restrictions, and Other Special Requirements (If Any)

  • There are no special selection criteria other than academic qualifications and interest in nuclear safety.


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Last modified April 14, 2020, 6:07pm CDT