National Nuclear Security Administration

Graduate Fellow Feature: Merritt Earle

March 1, 2019

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NNSA Graduate Fellow Merritt Earle
NNSA Graduate Fellow Merritt Earle

The NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) is a unique opportunity for recent graduates to join the Nuclear Security Enterprise. These full-time, salaried positions offer a year of specialized, on-the-job training and the chance to tackle real-world challenges in one of NNSA’s program offices. Fellows develop technical and leadership skills to launch their careers with a full immersion in one of NNSA’s core mission programs.

What is your academic background or field of study?

I have a broad background in physical sciences. I am currently finishing a Master of Science degree in environmental health physics at Clemson University. Prior to that, I was a Nuclear Forensics Undergraduate Scholar and completed an internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Since then, my studies have been focused on nuclear forensics applications. I have also studied geomatics technology, hydrogeology, nuclear engineering, and radiological sciences.

What drew you to the NGFP program?

Participating in the program presented me with several opportunities. I am able to contribute to informed decision-making with my technical background. I get to network with technical experts in the Nuclear Security Enterprise and see the inner workings of the sponsor side of research, development, and operations. Lastly, it is an opportunity to do my part to improve national nuclear security during a complex time in history.

What interests you most about nuclear security?

Nuclear security presents diverse, complex, and open-ended problems. Solving these difficult problems requires multidisciplinary cooperation that frequently leads down many unique paths. This cross-cutting collaboration between professions pushes science and policy further than either would reach on its own. It also presents me with learning opportunities at every turn.

What advice would you give prospective fellows?

Apply to the program, regardless of your background. The Nuclear Security Enterprise has a need for driven individuals from a wide breadth of backgrounds, not just those with nuclear or policy experience. Do what research you can before applying regarding the offices you may be interested in working with – the more you try to make the fellowship work for you, the more you’ll get out of it.

The NGFP is funded by NNSA and is administered by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Explore a career in nuclear security!