Interview by Katy Huff
Allison Miller, a technical staff member at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, focuses on criticality safety at work. For the American Nuclear Society, she is an executive committee member of the Nuclear Criticality Safety Division (NCSD) and the current chair of the Young Members Group (YMG). The following interview introduces this trail-blazing Young Member as well as her big goals for YMG. She even shares some really big goals she has for herself!
ANS Nuclear Cafe: Hi Allison, we are excited to get to know you better. How did you become involved with ANS and YMG?
Allison Miller: A long, long time ago… well, about six years ago, I applied for a Nuclear Criticality Safety Division graduate scholarship. I had taken a course in criticality safety and thought it was a very interesting field of nuclear engineering. I was awarded this scholarship and they asked that I attend the ANS Winter Meeting to be awarded the scholarship. From this meeting I started talking to the members of the NCSD and discovered that they were all very invested in getting me involved in the division. From this meeting, I was nominated to the secretary position and then the following year became the vice-program chair and eventually program chair. Because of the members of the NCSD, I have been involved in so many other aspects of the national society, from the Professional Women of ANS to the Aerospace Nuclear Science and Technology Division, National Program Committee and Young Members Group. I first got involved with the Young Members Group with the Young Professionals Congress as the technical program chair. This position allowed me to see the organization of the congress and get to know the members.
ANS Nuclear Cafe: What has been rewarding about your experience as a member of YMG, and what would you say to a young member considering involvement in YMG events and leadership?
Allison Miller: The YMG gives you a voice among your peers. I have seen conversations happen between young professionals that I am not too sure would have happened without the connections from the YMG. Anyone interested in getting involved in the Young Members Group should attend the committee meeting at the national meetings and see what we are passionate about. The group is not focused on the technical aspects of the society but rather the professional development and integration of new professionals and students transitioning into full members. For me the benefits of being involved in YMG is having an array of professionals who struggle with the same situations that I struggle with, but can offer a different prospective given their management or work environment.
ANS Nuclear Cafe: What are your priorities as YMG chair this year?
Allison Miller: My biggest challenge that I would love to accomplish is getting the young members to be more involved in the ANS technical divisions. Currently we have a position in each division that is called Young Member Liaison. The goal of this position is to get young members involved in the governance of each division. Not all divisions have a representative, and by the end of my year as chair I would like to have one young member involved in each division. This would aid the divisions in knowledge transfer and mentorship.
ANS Nuclear Cafe: What are your research interests?
Allison Miller: I work at Sandia National Laboratories and have for about five years now. I started as a graduate student intern and began working on the Seven Percent Critical Experiment at SNL. I have continued this work and along with the experiment we have developed a training class for criticality safety engineers. I have a dream of being vice president at SNL and part of my job includes work that aids my work in program development. Also, another job I have is some radiations effects work, which mostly includes computational modeling and some experiments.
ANS Nuclear Cafe: What do you do for fun?
Allison Miller: I am a pretty active person. I LOVE running and try to set a new goal each year. This year’s goal is to run 30-35 miles a week and run a half marathon in 1:39:00. I have also enjoyed rock climbing, cycling, swimming (but I have no desire to do a triathlon), reading, and listening to and discovering music.