National Nuclear Security Administration

Graduate Fellow Feature: Ruby Russell

October 11, 2017

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Ruby Russell, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation NGFP fellow

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. Program participants are able to develop technical and leadership skills to launch their careers with a full immersion in one of NNSA’s core mission programs.

What drew you to the NGFP?

After obtaining my master’s degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the field of arms control and international security. The Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) office at NNSA encompasses a variety of international and nuclear security-related programs, all of which seek to reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and related materials globally. NNSA’s unique position as both a technical- and policy-oriented agency, as well as its extensive work and collaboration with countries worldwide made it all the more interesting to me. I knew as an NGFP fellow I would have the opportunity to delve into the issues I am passionate about while also gaining a greater understanding of how U.S. nuclear security policy is developed and put into action.

What are you currently doing for NNSA?

I work in the DNN front office, which oversees four large and complex programs. The front office has a fast-paced atmosphere and serves as the center of communication and coordination with the DNN programs, DOE/NNSA, and interagency partners. My responsibilities range from tasking, compiling, and editing policy memos, to organizing and running meetings, to facilitating communications strategies and liaising with DNN stakeholders, both inside and outside of NNSA.

What has surprised you about the program?

The scope and diversity of the NNSA/DNN portfolio, and the degree to which the fellowship has allowed me to work on a variety of nuclear security issues. Coming into NNSA, I did not realize how far-reaching NNSA’s nuclear security initiatives were, and I continue to be impressed by the number of domestic and foreign partners we work with daily.

What advice would you give prospective fellows?

You should apply if you are looking to better understand the ways in which the United States develops and executes policy related to halting the spread of nuclear and radiological weapons worldwide, the NGFP fellowship provides an excellent opportunity to expand your nuclear security knowledge and skillset. I would also advise that in applying, to be open to exploring all of the various offices under NNSA, each of which plays a unique and critical role in advancing nuclear security.

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