NNSA BlogSr. Quality Engineer Brenette Wilder and Lead Project Engineer Dwight Drake from NNSA’s National Security Campus in Kansas City, Mo, were among seven individuals recently recognized as the 2015 Black Achiever’s Society Honorees. They were chosen for their educational, social and economic contributions to the community. 

The two join nearly 500 African American businessmen and women in the Black Achiever’s Society who were nominated by their employers over the past 40 years as exemplary leaders in their corporate roles as well as their involvement in the community.

Wilder, a 17-year NSC veteran, serves the local community in a multitude of ways. Her main focus is the Kansas City Teen Summit, an organization she founded in 2005, with the mission to help teens and battered women.

Throughout Drake’s 31-year tenure at the NSC, he has been a wealth of knowledge for his colleagues and has been called on countless times to lead teams and activities to improve business results. He leads projects tied to recent transformation and mentors employees seeking LEAN, Six Sigma or Project Management Professional certifications.

Jan 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Carol Sohn is the new Deputy Manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nevada Field Office. 

Ms. Sohn has an extensive background in nuclear safety analysis and nuclear materials processing.  Ms. Sohn obtained her BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University.  She also completed her Masters of Science in Management from the Purdue Krannert School. 

Prior to joining the Nevada Field Office Ms. Sohn served on assignment to the Office of Science as their Senior Nuclear Safety Advisor responsible for establishing nuclear safety policy, safety culture monitoring, interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and overseeing nuclear safety operations for the Office of Science.  She recently served on a detail to NNSA as the Acting Deputy Manager for the Nevada Field Office where she made gained valuable insight of the missions under the purview of the Field Office and used her experience to help drive key improvements in operations conducted at the Nevada National Security Site.  Other notable achievements include receipt of a Secretarial Award of Excellence for her contribution to the Argonne National Laboratory Nuclear Footprint Reduction, and identification of significant nuclear safety and conduct of operations issues at New Brunswick Laboratory in 2014 that resulted in a major overhaul of management, oversight of the facility, and conduct of operations leading to improved operations of the laboratory. 

Her career started at Los Alamos National Laboratory working in plutonium processing at Technical Area 55.  In 1995 she became a DOE employee with the Richland Operations office.  In 1999, Ms. Sohn transferred to the DOE-Oakland Operations office as their Senior Nuclear Safety Advisor for oversight of the nuclear facilities at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Ms. Sohn transferred to Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in 2006 and helped revise the Preliminary Hazards Analysis for the Capabilities Replacement Laboratory.  Following this task she served on assignment to the Office of Science as the Office of Science Senior Nuclear Safety Advisor. 

At the Nevada Field Office Ms. Sohn will be responsible for providing executive leadership and mentoring in operational oversight to a diverse set of technical and professional employees responsible for overseeing a wide range of national security missions.  Key emphasis areas will include continued improvement in performance oversight, operational excellence, and cultural improvements.

The Nevada Field Office is responsible for the Nevada National Security Site and its national security work. 

Jan 23, 2015 at 2:41 pm

NNSA BlogMichael Duvall has been selected as the new deputy manager for the NNSA Sandia Field Office.

Duvall joined the NNSA in 2012 and most recently served as the acting deputy manager and chief operating officer for the Los Alamos Field Office. In addition to his position as chief operating officer, he was also responsible for the performance evaluation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management and operating contractor. Prior to his detail as acting deputy manager, Duvall served as assistant manager of Safeguards and Security for the Los Alamos Field Office where he was responsible for federal oversight for physical security, emergency management, information systems and cyber security activities at LANL.

In 2011, Duvall served as the secretary of the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management overseeing and coordinating the state’s efforts for the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for all hazards, disasters, emergencies and terrorist acts.

Duvall retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2010 as a colonel after 26 years of military service. He was commander of the 377th Air Base Wing, Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. As base commander, he was responsible for security, emergency management and support operations for the installation that included Sandia National Laboratories.

Duvall graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with academic and military honors. His flying assignments included duties as an F-4 pilot, F-15E instructor pilot and an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. He accumulated more than 3,300 flying hours and was awarded a distinguished flying cross for flying operations in Desert Storm. Duvall was also awarded a bronze star for his role as a vice wing commander in Afghanistan. In addition to multiple flying and command assignments, he served as an air operations planner and analyst at the Pentagon. Duvall holds Master’s degrees in Strategic Studies from Air University and Military History from the University of Alabama.

Jan 20, 2015 at 1:00 pm

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) hosted a roundtable today with 13 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to discuss new funding that will strengthen American cybersecurity expertise.

A five-year, $25M grant will support a partnership between the HBCUs, Charleston County School District, and two NNSA laboratories; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory in California and New Mexico. Vice President Biden and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz highlighted DOE/NNSA’s Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium at a Norfolk State University ceremony on Thursday of this week.


“This undertaking by NNSA is an important investment in the future,” said DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz. “It will help ensure a sustainable pipeline of cybersecurity experts to protect the information systems that are a critical part of our Nation’s nuclear security infrastructure.”

The cybersecurity consortium was established by DOE/NNSA’s Minority Serving Institutions Partnerships Program (MSIPP), and allows participating schools to open doors to DOE sites and facilities to student members of the consortium. The partnership will strengthen & expand MSI institutional capacity and research in DOE/NNSA missions and increase participation of MSI faculty in DOE/NNSA activities; such as collaborative research, technical workshops, expert panel reviews/studies, and competitive processes, as well as drawing DOE scientists and engineers into the MSIs for curriculum development, teaching, mentoring and research.

The 13 HBCUs will receive the first allocation of the $25 million award in FY2015. The grants will help NNSA to institute a partnership with the next generation of future leaders and increase the number of minority students pursuing cyber security careers, and support NNSA in meeting its cyber security demands.  The grants will also help to attract minority graduates for employment within NNSA laboratories and plants. 


Jan 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Working at temperatures matching the interior of the sun, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have been able to determine experimentally iron’s role in inhibiting energy transmission from the center of the sun to near the edge of its radiative band.

Sandia’s Z machine creates the temperature of the sun’s interior —about 2.1 million degrees —in a target about the size of a grain of sand. From that small sample, Sandia researchers can do what theorists cannot: hold in a hand tangible evidence for the way iron atoms behave inside stars.

Read more.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Physicist Jim Bailey of Sandia National Laboratories observes a wire array that will heat foam to roughly 4 million degrees until it emits a burst of X-rays that heats a foil target to the interior conditions of the sun.

Jan 15, 2015 at 10:00 am

Training of first responders on the hazards of radiological and nuclear threats has been challenged by the difficulties of adequately representing those threats. 

Training against such threats would involve the use of hazardous, highly radioactive materials, experiencing actual radiation doses in training, or require the distribution of radioactive material over a large geographical area. To avoid these issues, surrogate radioactive materials have been used in training exercises. However, these materials do not accurately represent real threats due to their non-hazardous size and inability to be geographically distributed.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have solved the problem by developing a new technology that provides realistic radiation detection training by directly injecting simulated radiation signals into the analog amplifier of the real detectors used by first responders and inspectors. 

Read more.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
The LLNL Spectroscopic Injection Pulser prototype directly injects signals into radiation detection equipment, exactly like a real radiation source. This laboratory-scale prototype will support miniaturization to something near the size of a cellphone.

Jan 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm

NNSA BlogNNSA Sandia Field Office Facility Representative Erwin Hoo provided NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz a tour of the Annular Core Research Reactor (ACRR) at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque on Jan. 13.

The ACRR is a mission critical asset – the only remaining NNSA capability for high-power, short pulse environments needed to simulate nuclear weapons effects on full-scale systems. This test capability is critical to science-based weapons design and certification.

The ACRR is a pool-type research reactor (Hazard Category 2 Nuclear Facility) that has been in operation since the 1970s and has conducted more than 10,000 operations.

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Family members of former Y-12 Plant Manager Jack Case (1967-1982) recently stopped by the Jack Case Center at Y-12 to check out a new display of a few of his items, some donated by them and others brought out of the Y-12 historical archives. Brothers Larry and Patrick, along with sister Linda Fellers, donated the artifacts and some valuable historic information about their father to help the keepers of Y-12’s history share the legacy of the building’s namesake.

Artifacts of Case’s include his retirement certificate, his pen set and his umbrella from his office in the old administration building 9704-2, and a bust of Case that was a birthday present from the wife of a long-time co-worker.

Read more

Check out the history of Jack Case and his architectural namesake here.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Jack Case’s granddaughter Michelle Hurst points out to her mother Linda Fellers and uncle Patrick Case that the artist who created the bust of her grandfather “pretty well nailed it on the likeness.” The family loaned a number of Case’s personal articles, including the bust given to him as a birthday present by a friend’s wife who was a ceramics artist.

Jan 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm

NNSA BlogLt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator, and Madelyn Creedon, NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator, this week visited the Idaho National Laboratory including the Naval Reactors Facility, where they were hosted by Admiral John Richardson, Deputy Administrator for Naval Reactors.

Klotz and Creedon observed operations at the existing spent fuel handling facility, known as the Expended Core Facility (ECF), a 55-year-plus-old facility. This facility, which is need of replacement, supports the Navy’s nuclear powered surface ships and submarines. Naval Reactors personnel discussed the plans for the replacement facility, currently scheduled to begin operations in 2025.

The Naval Reactors Facility is the site of the first ever nuclear power plant designed to operate aboard a submarine, and has continued to play a vital role in the nation's ability to design, build, and dispose of nuclear reactors for submarines and aircraft carriers. Now, NR’s primary activities at the facility include examining, processing and preparing naval spent nuclear fuel for long-term dry storage. 

The new facility will incorporate the capabilities for naval spent nuclear fuel handling that currently exist in the ECF and its support facilities. Additionally, a major portion of this new facility will provide needed capability, which does not exist in the ECF, to handle full length aircraft carrier naval spent fuel received in new M-290 shipping containers. The current facility and its replacement are vital to national security. A long term interruption of refueling and defueling schedules for nuclear-powered vessels, as required by existing maintenance schedules, would jeopardize operational availability of the nuclear fleet to fulfill military missions worldwide.

Klotz and Creedon also met with members of the Idaho National Laboratory. The lab has a long history in the nuclear energy area and its growing expertise in new threat areas such as cyber security; make it an important nonproliferation partner for NNSA. By developing and testing alternative low enriched uranium fuels, INL provides critical support that enables NNSA to convert reactors from highly enriched uranium to LEU.

NNSA BlogHEU minimization is one of President Obama’s hallmark policies and INL's support is central to the substantial success NNSA has had in developing LEU fuels. Because of some unique facilities at INL, the lab has also emerged as a leader in cyber security and is the lab co-chair of the NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation joint HQ-lab cyber task force. In addition, INL conducts work on radiation detection methods for nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards, and treaty verification, and supports other treaty verification technologies. 

Jan 8, 2015 at 3:00 am

NNSA BlogNNSA today announced the removal of 36 kilograms (approximately 80 pounds) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) spent fuel from the Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The HEU was transported via two air shipments to a secure facility in Russia for permanent disposition. This complex operation was the culmination of a multi-year effort between the United States, Kazakhstan, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In September 2014, approximately 10 kilograms (approximately 22 pounds) of HEU fresh fuel was returned to Russia from the INP. The HEU was shipped to a facility in Russia where it will be down-blended to low enriched uranium (LEU). 

Read more.

Jan 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm