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Graduate Fellow Featured: Victoria Wu

Victoria Wu, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation NGFP fellowThe NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) is a unique opportunity for recent graduates to join the Nuclear Security Enterprise. These full-time, salaried positions offer a year of specialized, on-the-job training, and the chance to tackle real-world challenges in one of NNSA’s program offices. Fellows develop technical and leadership skills to launch their careers with a full immersion in one of NNSA’s core mission programs.

What are you currently doing for NNSA?

I work for the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation’s conversion program. My office facilitates the conversion of civilian nuclear reactors from highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium fuels, and I contribute on a range of assignments related to this objective. I’ve participated in exciting international opportunities, including travel to Vienna to coordinate with partners at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and providing support to meetings in Beijing for negotiations and coordination with Chinese counterparts. I also assisted with my program’s annual Reduced Enrichment Research and Test Reactor conference in Chicago, which had more than 200 attendees.

What interests you most about nuclear security?

I am interested in the intricate processes of policy formulation and policy implementation. It is impressive how much parallel and continuous work within NNSA, and partner organizations is required to support our nation’s nuclear security and nonproliferation efforts. Given my background in international relations, I have been especially keen to understand what it takes to get people, organizations, and countries to work together in the pursuit of the complicated mission of nuclear security. As an NGFP fellow, you go from observer to participant, and get to make tangible contributions to timely issues.

What has been a highlight of your time with NNSA so far?

I’ve really enjoyed assisting my office with their efforts to convert Chinese-origin Miniature Neutron Source Reactors (MNSRs) located around the world. We successfully converted the Ghanaian MNSR from highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium the month after I arrived, which was the first MNSR to be converted outside of China. Now, we are trying to build on that momentum to convert more MNSRs around the world. I feel fortunate to have been part of this project, which involved long-term multilateral technical exchange and administrative coordination to achieve. As a previous China Studies major, it is refreshing to be able to work on China-related issues again, but in a completely different functional context than my previous work. In addition, I have really enjoyed my interactions with the scientists at the national labs who support my program. Through them, I have gained a deeper appreciation for how technical expertise and policy implementation come together.

What has surprised you about the program?

How quickly and fully I have integrated into my program office and their activities! My colleagues have been welcoming and encouraging since the very first day. They have been supportive of my active involvement in their work, and I’ve been able to pursue many opportunities that I know will be beneficial to both my personal and career development.

NGFP is funded by NNSA and is administered by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Explore a career in nuclear security!