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Nonproliferation Graduate Fellowship Program Attracts High Caliber Young Professionals to Careers in Nonproliferation and National Security

NGFP Alum Sean Dunlop

The Nonproliferation Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) was established to attract young, talented professionals with an interest in nonproliferation to support NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. Offering hands-on experience, a full-time salary for a year, and career development opportunities, the program is highly competitive. More than 160 qualified, advanced-degree students applied for 24 slots last year. After an intensive orientation at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and NNSA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Fellows hit the ground running in a fast-paced work environment.

A guiding principle for NGFP is that future policymakers at NNSA must be able to merge technical competence with political acumen to be successful; the program strives to attract applicants with both skill sets. For example, after receiving her Master’s in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emily Diez was able to directly apply her education to benefit national security. She currently works for the NNSA Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) International Nonproliferation Export Control Program, which provides outreach designed to help other governments identify and seize commodities usable for weapons of mass destruction. Emily now manages an ongoing effort to provide advanced analytical tools and training to border security officials that enhances their ability to intercept sensitive commodities. Like many NGFP Fellows, she found the program very beneficial. She says, “The experience has been truly rewarding—you can immediately see the results of your work and know it made a difference.”

Many NGFP alumni continue to work at NNSA after their fellowships are over. Sean Dunlop (shown in photo), from the class of 2010, began his fellowship after graduating from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and working as a research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. During his fellowship, Sean worked with retired military officials and next-generation scholars from South Asia and the Middle East to facilitate regional security confidence-building measures. Then Sean was able to step easily into a planning role for high-profile international events like the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference and the Nuclear Security Summit. He comments, “It feels like everything I learned during the NGFP fellowship has been a natural progression towards the work I’m doing today—it was a great experience.” Sean now works as the Action Officer within NIS’s Front Office, organizing activities to support NIS programs and interfacing with other elements of the federal government.

Building successful leaders like Emily and Sean is so important that NNSA is increasing NGFP’s impact even more. Starting next year, NGFP will combine with the former Future Leaders Program to create the NNSA Graduate Program, which will nearly double the number of positions and serve the entire NNSA enterprise, supporting the nuclear security mission. The combined program is accepting applications through October 22, 2012. Learn more and apply at