Argonne nuclear engineer on new season of Survivor

By Lenka Kollar

Dr. J’Tia Taylor is a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory—and on the cast for the newest season of Survivor, which premiered on February 26 at 8/7c on CBS. J’Tia received her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was the first black female to successfully defend and receive a Ph.D. from the department. She now works at Argonne in the area of nuclear nonproliferation policy—learn more about J’Tia’s work at Argonne here.

This season of Survivor is set in the Philippines province of Cagayan, and the 18 contestants are split into three tribes according to their skills: Brawn, Brains, and Beauty. The contestants compete in various challenges and vote each other off the island until the “Sole Survivor” is left standing. Although J’Tia could easily qualify for the Beauty group, she is obviously on the Brains tribe. She describes herself as “intelligent, adaptable and competitive” and uses her analytical engineering skills for solving problems. J’Tia says that she came to Cagayan to win the $1 million first prize and will “do what needs to be done.” Watch her casting video below to see more!

J’Tia is an American Nuclear Society member and active participant in nuclear science and STEM outreach programs in the Chicago area. She is especially passionate about encouraging young women to pursue technical fields because of her own unique background. J’Tia spent a few years as a successful fashion and beauty model until she decided to return to graduate school. She asked herself, “Do I want to be a 40-year-old ex-model or a 40-year-old nuclear engineer?” J’Tia tells young women that so-called “glamorous” careers are short-lived and it is much more fulfilling to use your intelligence and creativity to solve real world problems.

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J’Tia Taylor giving the keynote speech at Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at Argonne National Laboratory

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J’Tia Taylor explaining nuclear science fundamentals at the Girl Scouts Atomic Fission Fun Event hosted by the ANS Chicago Section

J’Tia’s fun personality and fierce attitude will make this season exciting to watch. Her analytical background and problem solving skills will definitely give her a leg up on the competition. Be sure to tune in to CBS tonight at 8/7c to support our fellow nuclear engineer and ANS member!

J'Tia Taylor and friends

J’Tia Taylor and friends at Girl Scouts Atomic Fission Fun

Follow J’Tia Taylor on Twitter and Facebook, visit her Survivor cast bio page, and find out more information about Survivor: Cagayan on the CBS website.

J'Tia on location


kollar c 124x150Lenka Kollar is the owner and editor of Nuclear Undone, a blog and consulting company focusing on educating the public about nuclear energy and nonproliferation issues. She is an active ANS member, serving on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Technical Group Executive Committee, Student Sections Committee, and Professional Women in ANS Committee. Connect with Lenka on LinkedIN and Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Argonne nuclear engineer on new season of Survivor

  1. Kevin

    I’m a junior in Nuclear Engineering and after watching her I want to change my major :(

  2. chergui53

    My father was an engineer who worked at Argonne after WWII. He must be rolling over in his grave wondering how this woman got her PhD! I get it, not all nerds are athletic or physical. I know many who aren’t physical. But, after this week’s challenge when J’Tia’s teammate-attorney verbally gave J’Tia a pass for being a “hot head” and throwing the rice into the fire, that just shows how stupid they all are. What happens if she’s a hot head during a nuclear incident? OMG, throw the workers and the community into the nuclear heat. Too little, too late to keep some brawn on the Brain team. They’ve made all nerds look pathetic!!!

  3. Samelson Jr.

    After seeing three episodes, I am of the opinion; she does not belong there, as she is both inept and incompetent.

  4. Gmax137

    Did you watch the first episode? J’Tia isn’t making us nukes look too good.

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