Rose Montgomery, a distinguished researcher and leader of the Used Fuel and Nuclear Material Disposition group at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been selected to participate in the U.S. WIN Nuclear Executives of Tomorrow, or NEXT, class of 2023 to 2024. The program was created by Women in Nuclear, an organization dedicated to creating professional development and networking opportunities, offering career enhancements for women and supporting social understanding of the value of nuclear energy and technologies.
The NEXT program prepares women for executive positions in the nuclear sector by providing professional development and networking opportunities within the field. The year-long opportunity challenges participants to engage in open dialogue with industry CNOs and CEOs, learn strategies to benefit their careers and companies, and create capstone projects providing lasting benefits to the nuclear sector and future women leaders.
Montgomery’s participation in the program marks an important step forward in her career as a leader in the nuclear industry. “I feel very honored to be selected for the program, and I’m grateful for the confidence that our ORNL leadership has in me. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said. More than 60% of the NEXT program’s graduates have gone on to senior management positions at nuclear utilities and companies.
Montgomery focuses on solving problems related to the storage, transportation, and long-term storage and disposition of used fuel from commercial nuclear power plants. She is the lead investigator for the Sibling Pin project, which is sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy to provide data on potential changes in the fuel rods resulting from interim dry storage activities.
In addition to her work as a researcher, Montgomery works extensively with ORNL Employee Resource Groups to promote recruitment and retention of women at the lab. She serves in leadership roles for the lab-level Employee Resource Group Women’s Alliance Council and in Women in Nuclear and Global Security, a network in the National Security Sciences Directorate (NSSD), Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate (FFESD), and Isotope Science and Engineering Directorate (ISED). WINGS operates under the umbrella of the Women’s Alliance Council and has the mission to empower, enlighten, and encourage a diverse and inclusive workforce and promote ORNL as an attractive workplace for women.
Montgomery sees the NEXT program as an important step in achieving the long-term goals of U.S. nuclear energy programs. “I think that having a diversity of viewpoints, and especially women’s perspectives, is really important for understanding and solving the big science problems we address at ORNL,” she said. “Programs like NEXT are exactly what we need to really hear from those perspectives.”
The NEXT program offers several impactful opportunities, including meetings with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations in Atlanta, monthly virtual sessions on professional and personal focus areas, and a class capstone project. Montgomery is particularly excited about the chance to travel to Washington, D.C., to speak with the legislators that most directly impact U.S. policy on nuclear energy and spent fuel research. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science. – Galen Fader