US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has officially sworn in Dr Rita Baranwal as the Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. Dr Baranwal, whom the US Senate first confirmed on June 20, becomes the first woman to lead the Office of Nuclear Energy.
In her new role, Dr Baranwal will lead the office’s efforts to promote research and development on existing and advanced nuclear technologies, maintain the existing fleet of nuclear reactors, and promote the development of a robust pipeline of advanced reactor designs and supply chain capabilities.
“It is an honor to be part of an organization that is leading the U.S. in game-changing, innovative nuclear technologies,” said Dr Baranwal. “Advanced reactors are smaller, cleaner, and more efficient, and will equip the US nuclear energy industry to lead the world in deployment, supplying urgently needed clean energy both domestically and globally.”
Dr Baranwal has directed the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative at Idaho National Laboratory since 2016. The US Department of Energy (DOE) initiative connects industry with national laboratories to help commercialize nuclear technologies. Under her leadership, GAIN positively impacted 112 projects and companies.
Prior to joining DOE, Dr Baranwal worked for Westinghouse in the nuclear fuel division, leading a number of research and development programs. She started her career at Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory helping to develop advanced nuclear fuel materials for US naval reactors.
Dr Baranwal has a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in materials science and engineering and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the same discipline from the University of Michigan.