U of I engineering professor appointed to US Department of Energy leadership role

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Kathryn D. Huff, a professor of nuclear, plasma, and radiological engineering in the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has accepted an appointment to a senior leadership position in the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy.

“The world is at war with climate change,” Huff said. “It’s my honor to be called to serve the Biden-Harris administration in this fight. In this position, I hope to work with other offices in the U.S. Department of Energy – such as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration – to help nuclear power maintain its role as a key part of the world’s clean energy future.”

Huff will oversee the five deputy assistant secretaries and the agency’s activities in areas such as nuclear facility operations, science, and technology innovation, and international nuclear energy policy.

“It will be a unique opportunity to advance new reactor deployments, encourage rational national fuel cycle strategies and help consent-based waste management policy move forward,” says Huff.

In her new position, she will report to Chief Operating Officer Dennis M. Miotla, who had been serving as acting assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy since he was appointed by President Joe Biden in January.

Huff, who was sworn in this morning, also will be taking on the title of acting assistant secretary of the Office of Nuclear Energy. In that role, she will be reporting to Kathleen Hogan, the associate deputy undersecretary for science.

Huff holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She joined the U. of I. engineering faculty in 2016 and has received campus and departmental awards for teaching excellence. Her research interests include scientific computing education, repository system performance modeling, and reactor neutronics and kinetics.

Rashid Bashir, the dean of the Grainger College of Engineering, said: “I am truly delighted that the White House has selected Professor Huff and called upon her to serve the Department of Energy and the nation in this important leadership role. We are very proud of her accomplishments and look forward to the impact that she will continue to make in the years to come.”

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