Trump ropes in Indian-American Woman to head US nuclear energy division

Washington: After signing a new legislation to fast-track the development of advanced reactors, US president Donald Trump has assigned a key administrative position in the department of energy to a top Indian American nuclear expert.

Trump has nominated Rita Baranwal to be an assistant secretary of energy (nuclear energy) at the Department of Energy, the White House said in a statement.

Baranwal currently serves as the Director of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

Who is Baranwal?

  • As Assistant Secretary of Energy, if confirmed by the Senate, Baranwal will be heading the powerful Office of Nuclear Energy. She would also be responsible for the department’s nuclear technology research and the development and management of the department’s nuclear technology infrastructure.
  • Previously, she served as Director of Technology Development & Application at Westinghouse and was a manager in Materials Technology at Bechtel Bettis, where she led research and development in nuclear fuel materials for US naval reactors.
  • Baranwal earned her BA in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT and PhD from the University of Michigan. She serves on advisory boards for MIT’s Materials Research Laboratory and UC Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Department.

Last week, Trump had signed into law the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act which will speed up the development of advanced reactors in the United States. The law eliminates some of the financial and technological barriers standing in the way of nuclear innovation.

In a recent presentation, Baranwal said that US nuclear industry is equipped to lead the world in deployment of innovative nuclear technologies to supply urgently needed abundant clean energy both domestically and globally.

“The unconventional and energetic spirit that created the commercial nuclear energy industry will again transform our country. New, smaller and more efficient reactors are being developed to combat climate change and meet the energy demand,” Baranwal said in a blogpost last week.

(With inputs from PTI)