Dr. Rita Baranwal served as the former Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) from July 2019 - January 2021. She was nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to perform in this role. Dr. Baranwal led the office’s efforts to promote research and development (R&D) on existing and advanced nuclear technologies that sustain the existing U.S. fleet of nuclear reactors, enable the deployment of advanced nuclear energy systems, and enhance the U.S.A.'s global commercial nuclear energy competitiveness.
Prior to her role, Dr. Baranwal directed the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative at Idaho National Laboratory. She was responsible for providing the nuclear industry and other stakeholders access to DOE's state-of-the-art R&D expertise, capabilities, and infrastructure to achieve faster and cost-effective development, demonstration, and ultimate deployment of innovative nuclear energy technologies. Under her leadership, GAIN positively impacted over 120 companies.
Before joining the U.S. Department of Energy, Dr. Baranwal served as Director of Technology Development & Application at Westinghouse. There, she led the creation and development of game-changing technologies and managed characterization and hot cell laboratories. Her previous positions at Westinghouse included director of Core Engineering and manager of Materials and Fuel Rod Design. Prior to joining Westinghouse, she was a manager in Materials Technology at Bechtel Bettis, Inc. where she led and conducted R&D in advanced nuclear fuel materials for US Naval Reactors.
Dr. Baranwal has served on Advisory Boards for MIT’s Materials Research Laboratory and UC Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Department, and also was adjunct faculty at University of South Carolina's nuclear engineering graduate program. Dr. Baranwal is a past Chairman of the Executive Committee of the American Nuclear Society's (ANS) Materials Science and Technology Division. She has also served on the Boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters-Pittsburgh and North Hills Community Outreach.
Dr. Baranwal is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society. She has a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in materials science and engineering and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the same discipline from the University of Michigan.