Fellow Reflection: Alumna Anna (Nikiforova) Erickson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Discipline: Nuclear Engineering
Practicum:  Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Hometown: Gresham, Ore.

Alumna Anna (Nikiforova) Erickson

Explain why you have an interest in stewardship science.

Stewardship science gives me the opportunity to work in nuclear engineering while pursuing research that is relevant to the real world. Stewardship science deals with current, real world nuclear engineering problems while focusing on the keeping the great potential of nuclear energy safe and secure. Unlike some branches of nuclear engineering, the problems being faced in stewardship science demand solutions that may be deployed within just a few years, not in decades. I am involved in the systems design from concept to deployment, with an opportunity to contribute in every stage, from modeling to prototyping and testing. This range of experiences means project will stay fresh and engaging, with new challenges to be faced regularly.

Why did the DOE NNSA SSGF program appeal to you?

The opportunities that the DOE NNSA SSGF program offers to us as fellows are astonishing. Besides being prestigious, with past and current recipients at the tops of their fields, the program creates an opportunity to establish working relationships with highly influential researchers in the National Laboratory system and different areas of the National Nuclear Security Administration. The associated National Laboratory internships offer access to programs with the resources and staff to help me realize my own goals.

Explain the benefits you have received or positive experiences you have had in the DOE NNSA SSGF program.

One of the most positive experiences about this program is how it has allowed me to meet many people who are passionate about science and nuclear engineering in particular. During the annual DOE NNSA SSGF conferences I have made strong connections with current professionals and my fellow students, whom I will be working with for decades to come. In my view, the greatest benefit of the program is my upcoming involvement in an internship in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The researchers I have spoken with have always seemed strongly interested in bringing DOE NNSA SSGF fellows into their programs.

Describe your career goal(s) in the field of stewardship science.       

The nuclear industry has been trying to revitalize itself by promoting nuclear energy as a solution to carbon emissions, a safe and reliable source of power, and as increasing nation’s independence from foreign oil. The opposition to nuclear power uses the link between nuclear energy, spent nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons as the greatest danger of nuclear power. Moreover, the nuclear industry is often referred to as “dirty and dangerous” because of the possibility of terrorist groups using nuclear materials as radiological of nuclear weapon. Stewardship science to me is not just DOE’s initiative on stockpile maintenance, but an opportunity for the nuclear science and engineering to return people’s trust in nuclear technology. I see my career in the research positions within the national laboratory system, exploring the development of radiation detectors for applications in nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear arms control. It is my desire to continue working on projects involving modeling and simulation, with opportunities for prototyping and laboratory testing. The national laboratories offer great opportunities for both interesting projects and the resources to complete them.

List or describe some of your hobbies and interests outside of your research / studies.

I apply my engineering skills to the cheesecake recipes development, which are them implemented in my kitchen and field tested on all my friends.  I also really enjoy swimming (perhaps as a consequence of the first hobby).