Volume 2.04 | November 2020
Alumni Newsletter - November 2020
News & Events
Program Launches National Security Enterprise Lecture Series. We have kicked off the National Security Enterprise Lecture Series, a multi-week virtual professional development series showcasing topics and stakeholders spanning the national security technology and policy realm. Sessions included:
  • “Nuclear Science 101” with PNNL’s Walt Sansot, NGFP Team Lead and National Security Specialist, focused on the science of nuclear operations and nuclear weapons.
  • “Understanding the Landscape of the National Security Enterprise” with PNNL’s Josh Shiode, Federal Affairs Director, and Dirk Bartlett, DC Office Lead for Los Alamos National Laboratory, who presented an overview of NNSA in congressional operations.
  • Jody Daniel, Director of the U.S. Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, provided an overview of the Department of State’s Nuclear Risk Reduction Center. 
  • Representatives from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency shared their mission space, including counter-WMD research and development, arms control, nuclear enterprise support, and the Defense Nuclear Weapons School.
  • Fellows participated in a virtual tour of the Nuclear Response Division’s Remote Sensing Laboratory and heard from a panel about career opportunities with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The panel featured NGFP alumni Georgia Adams (Class of 2007) and Taissa Sobolev (Class of 2010).

Our professional development and networking agenda is constantly evolving and we’re always looking for new speakers and organizations to join us. If you’d be interested in hosting a learning or network seminar with our fellows, contact ngfp@pnnl.gov
Fellows Attend Leadership Certificate Program. In October, the fellows participated in the first session of the NNSA Aspiring Leadership Certification Program. A new addition to NGFP in 2019, the program provides foundational exposure to leadership skills and competencies essential for individual and organizational success. The program consists of eight developmental tracks that prepare participants for future leadership roles within NNSA. Alongside all the tools gained, ALCP is a 12-month certificate program that gives participants a competitive edge when applying for future leadership positions.
Recruitment Concludes, Interviews Begin. Recruitment for the Class of 2021 concluded with the close of the application on October 2. We connected with 80-plus universities in person last fall and virtually this spring, an effort that resulted in a record 261 completed applications. From November 9-20, we conducted more than 400 interviews with 145 candidates. We look forward to extending offers in December and beginning to onboard the new cohort in January 2021.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in our presentations, shared university contacts, and encouraged others to apply. If you have suggestions for points of contact at your alma mater or would like to join us on future recruitment events, contact ngfp@pnnl.gov.
Alumni Highlights
Alum Joins the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Ryan Bolt, Class of 2019-2020, was recently selected to serve as a Junior Professional Officer in the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation Division for Latin America and the Caribbean starting November 2020. In this position, Ryan will be responsible for managing and implementing nuclear applications for technical projects across the region, including those focused on building capacity in nuclear safety and security. 

Ryan will use his experience as the fellow in the DOE/NNSA Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, where he focused on IAEA Cooperation for the Office of Global Material Security, to support the Division’s mission. “There is no better way to launch your career in nuclear security than NGFP,” he said. Ryan looks forward to gaining international experience at the IAEA that he can bring back to the U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise.
Fellow Highlights
Workshop Explores Explainable Artificial Intelligence (AI). On Sept. 15 and 16, NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development program (DNN R&D) hosted a workshop titled "Next-Gen AI for Proliferation Detection: Accelerating the Development and Use of Explainability Methods to Design AI Systems Suitable for Nonproliferation Mission Applications." The workshop showcased presentations and panels from national laboratories, university partners, and end-user stakeholders that push the state-of-the-art in AI. Seven DOE laboratories participated as well as NNSA’s Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Nevada National Security Site.

The meeting provided a forum for discussions between researchers and mission partners on challenges and opportunities for AI in nuclear nonproliferation and helped advance the standard practice of AI in proliferation detection. Current fellow Marc Wonders (NA-22) had a key role in coordinating logistical planning; recruiting and interfacing with speakers, panelists, and participants; and developing meeting-related materials.

“Commercially available off-the-shelf AI fails to meet the more stringent requirements of algorithms for use in national security applications. One key attribute commonly lacking is explainability of the algorithm, which is important to build trust and understand system limitations,” Marc said. “The workshop improved awareness and understanding of explainability methods and requirements, and it gave researchers already working on explainable AI a chance to share their work and interact with other researchers in the same space.” Marc is a fellow with DNN R&D and has a Doctor of Philosophy in nuclear engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

This meeting is the first in a series sponsored by the Data Science portfolio in DNN R&D on the next generation of AI to enable nuclear proliferation detection. The next workshop, which will be held in February 2021, is being led by PNNL and is focused on incorporating domain-awareness into AI systems. To learn more, see “AI research and representation: One team’s mission to pursue both” on the NNSA web site.
NNSA Activities Go Virtual. The latest issue of the DNN Sentinel newsletter highlights the wide range of remote activities engaging NNSA and partners across the Nuclear Security Enterprise, including a story by current fellow Samra Wolde-Tensae on remote engagements with international partners. Her article highlights recent efforts by DNN's Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control’s International Nuclear Export Control Program.
Upcoming Events
This spring, we’ll be hosting a series of job fairs and networking activities to connect fellows with employers to explore potential post-fellowship opportunities. Interested in joining us or hiring a fellow? Contact ngfp@pnnl.gov.

Contact Information
Where have you been all these years? What have you been up to in your post-fellowship career? How did NGFP impact your professional trajectory? Have you taken on a new and exciting opportunity? We want to hear from you! Send us your latest career highlight and we will share it in a future newsletter!

NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 
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Seattle, WA 98109 USA