National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA and PONI partnership grows next generation of nuclear security experts

June 9, 2017

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The 2017 CSIS PONI scholars.

NNSA and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently continued and expanded a joint project aimed at growing the next generation of nuclear security experts.

Since 2007, NNSA’s support to the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) has successfully worked to address the need for a vibrant community of nuclear experts to support U.S. strategic nuclear capabilities.

PONI and NNSA aim to cultivate nuclear professionals by providing opportunities to build relationships, deepen understanding, and share perspectives. From the PONI Annual Conference Series and the Mid-Career Cadre, to international outreach and the Nuclear Scholars Initiative, the program identifies emerging thought leaders, sponsors new research, provides a platform for information-sharing and collaboration, and engages the broad and diverse nuclear community internationally.

The current PONI agreement was approved in March and will continue through 2020. This year’s agreement added a new effort – a trilateral dialogue with the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom. Discussions with high-level nuclear officials will enhance knowledge of emerging challenges and provide insight to policymakers, technical experts, and the public about the evolving nature and future of nuclear security.

In addition to its support for the PONI program, NNSA works to develop and retain nuclear professionals through several early career initiatives. This year the NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) graduated 49 fellows as part of the largest class in the program’s history, with many fellows going on to roles throughout the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Many of these fellows are concurrent and continuing participants in the CSIS PONI programs including Nuclear Scholars Initiative class of 2017, NGFP alumni, and current NNSA employees David EtimApril Gillens, and Merit Schumaker, who published an article for the PONI blog forum about a memorable trip with NNSA leadership.

The first conference to be held during the  2017-2018 PONI Conference Series will occur June 21-22 at NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Global Security Research.