Mr. David Blee
President & CEO
U.S. Nuclear Industry Council
David Blee serves as President & CEO of the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council – the leading business consortium advocate for nuclear energy and the promotion of the U.S. supply chain globally. The Council represents more than 80 companies comprising the “Who’s Who” of nuclear energy across a broad mix of the American supply chain, including key mover utilities, M&Os, manufacturers, suppliers and services companies.
Mr. Blee’s public service experience includes his current appointment on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee and past appointments as a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy and Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Energy – and as Chief of Staff to former U.S. Senator Connie Mack, during his service in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Prior to his current assignments, Mr. Blee was an Executive Vice President for NAC International, a U.S.-based energy services and technology company, where he directed the company’s Worldwide Consulting Group and Marketing & Business Development portfolios. Mr. Blee was previously a Senior Vice President for the Wall Street-Washington DC-based Robinson, Lake, Lerer and Montgomery, a strategic communications firm.
Dr. Ashley Finan
Director, National Reactor Innovation Center
Idaho National Laboratory
Ashley Finan most recently served as Executive Director for the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) where she was responsible for managing the organization’s strategy, operations, policy and technical development, stakeholder outreach, and fundraising. She provided expert guidance to policymakers, academic teams, industry stakeholders, and NGOs. Dr. Finan previously served as a Director of Nuclear Innovation at Clean Air Task Force.
Dr. Finan earned her Ph.D. in Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her doctoral work focused on energy innovation investment and policy optimization, both in nuclear and renewable energy technologies. She has played a key role in studies of the use of advanced nuclear energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in several applications, including hydrogen production, coal to liquids processes, and oil production methods.
Dr. Finan has worked as a strategy and engineering consultant, primarily on nuclear energy applications. She also contributed to an analysis of the techno-economic potential of energy efficiency improvements in the residential and commercial sectors and several related topics. Dr. Finan holds an SB degree in Physics as well as SB and SM degrees in Nuclear Science and Engineering from MIT.
Dr. Robert Hill
Program Manager, Advanced NE R&D
Argonne National Laboratory
Dr. Robert Hill leads Advanced Nuclear Energy Research and Development within the Nuclear Science and Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory.
Dr. Hill completed his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University in 1987. He has worked at Argonne National Laboratory for over 25 years with research focus on reactor physics, fast reactor core design, plutonium disposition, and waste management. In his current position, he manages Advanced Nuclear Energy Research and Development within the Nuclear Science and Engineering Division of Argonne National Laboratory. He has previously led Nuclear Engineering Division research groups working on reactor physics analysis, advanced modeling and simulation, fuel cycle and systems dynamics modeling, criticality safety, and nuclear data.
Dr. Hill is National Technical Director for multi-Laboratory advanced reactor R&D activities in current DOE Programs; this work includes small modular reactors, advanced structural materials, energy conversion technology, safety and licensing, and system integration. He also serves as U.S. representative for the Generation-IV Sodium Cooled Fast Reactor. Previous Program contributions include extensive transmutation and fuel cycle analysis activities in DOE Fuel Cycle Programs.
Mr. John Hopkins
President & CEO
John L. Hopkins is chairman and CEO of NuScale Power, LLC, a leading U.S.-based advanced small modular reactor technology development company.
Hopkins is currently serving as chairman of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
Prior to joining NuScale in 2012, Hopkins was with Fluor Corporation since 1989, one of the world's largest publicly-traded engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and maintenance companies. Hopkins held numerous leadership positions in both operations and business development globally.
From 2010 to 2013, Hopkins served as Fluor's group president for the corporate development and new ventures group, responsible for strategic planning, global sales and marketing.
Active in a variety of professional and business organizations, Hopkins is the chairman of the executive committee for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and was formerly the chairman of the board. Most recently, he was appointed to the Department of Energy's (DOE) Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee (NEAC). He is a member of the Nuclear Energy Institute Executive Committee and Task Force Member, Atlantic Council. He is a senior policy advisor of I Squared Capital, New York. He has also served as the senior executive member of both the Fluor Netherlands and Fluor United Kingdom board of directors; chairman of the board for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC; and as a director of the Business Council for International Understanding.
Hopkins holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance from the University of Texas, Austin. He also completed advanced management programs at the University of California, Irvine, Thunderbird University's international management program.
Dr. Kathryn McCarthy
Vice-President, Research and Development
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
Dr. Kathryn McCarthy is Vice-President, Research and Development for the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.
From February 2012 to January 2017 she was Director of Domestic Programs for Nuclear Science and Technology (NS&T) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and the Director of the Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program Technical Integration Office for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE). Prior to that she was Deputy Associate Laboratory Director for NS&T at INL, National Technical Director for the Systems Analysis Campaign for the DOE-NE Fuel Cycle R&D Program, and was involved in various other nuclear fission and fusion programs before that; she was employed at the INL for 25 years. She received her B.S. in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Arizona; M.S. and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. McCarthy was a Guest Scientist at the Kernforschungszentrum in Karlsruhe, Germany, March-September 1989, worked in the Soviet Union with the Department of Energy US/USSR Young Scientist Program (September 1989-August 1990), at the Efremov and Kurchatov Institutes in Russia, and the Latvian Academy of Science in Latvia.
Dr. McCarthy is a member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS), and has held multiple offices at the local and national level. Her awards include the an ANS Presidential citation in 2015 for “Leadership and guidance of the Light Water Reactor Sustainability effort….that has helped set the stage for US power companies to be able to make informed decisions regarding subsequent license renewal for their operating nuclear units…,” 2011 Nuclear Energy Advocate of the Year Award (given by the Partnership for Science and Technology), the 2011 Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Women of Today and Tomorrow Award, an American Nuclear Society Presidential Citation in 2007 for “…outstanding service to the ANS,” the 2000 ANS Women's Achievement Award, 1996 International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor U.S. Home Team Leadership Award, and the 1994 David Rose Award for Excellence in Fusion Engineering.
Hon. Jeffrey Merrifield
Former Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Chairman, USNIC Advanced Reactor Task Force;
Partner - Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Jeffrey Merrifield is a partner in the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s energy practice. Mr. Merrifield was appointed by President Clinton and reappointed by President Bush to serve on the five-member, Senate-confirmed, independent United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During his tenure, which was from October 1998 to June 2002 and from August 2002 to June 2007, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission had a staff of 3,250 employees with a budget of $900 million and set all policies and rules that govern the safe and secure use of nuclear materials at the 104 U.S. nuclear power plants operating at that time.
Prior to joining Pillsbury, Mr. Merrifield served as President of The Merrifield Group, LLC where he provided energy and environmental consulting, advocacy and strategic advice for companies, organizations and individuals. Specific areas of focus included management, energy market analysis, nuclear, fossil and alternative energy policy and deployment, radioactive and hazardous waste disposal strategies, safety and regulatory assessment and analysis, as well as public and government engagement.
Before working with the Merrifield Group, Mr. Merrifield was the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development with CB&I’s Power Business Unit. While there, he led a team of twenty-five sales and proposal staff to develop and win over $1.5 billion in annual sales, including the first competitive, EPC combined cycle gas unit in over six years.
Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President for The Shaw Group, Inc.’s Power Group. As a member of the Power Group's executive team, he was responsible for overseeing the group's external relationships including nuclear business development, customer relations, strategic planning, marketing and communications, as well as government and regulatory affairs.
Mr. Merrifield also served on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Ecology Corporation, which is one of the largest U.S. operators of both hazardous and low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities. He served as the Lead Director and Chairman of the Governance Committee and was a member of the Compensation and Audit Committees.
Currently, Mr. Merrifield serves as the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council’s Advanced Reactors Task Force. Composed of more than 70 companies, the Council is the leading business consortium advocate for new nuclear energy and the promotion of the American supply chain globally.
Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh
Program Director, Advanced Nuclear Reactor Systems
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)
Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh currently serves as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Her focus at ARPA-E includes a wide range of technologies to enable advanced nuclear reactor systems.
Slaybaugh is also an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. There, she researches numerical methods for neutral particle transport with an emphasis on supercomputing and advanced architectures. Her research applies to reactor design, shielding, and nuclear security and non-proliferation. Slaybaugh also runs the Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp to train the next generation of people working on nuclear energy. She was appointed to the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and she serves as a Senior Fellow at the Breakthrough Institute.
Slaybaugh earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and engineering physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a B.S. in nuclear engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
Ms. Rumina Velshi
President & CEO
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Rumina Velshi was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a five-year term beginning August 22, 2018.
Ms. Velshi has had a long association with the CNSC. She was appointed as a permanent, part-time Commission member in 2011 and re-appointed for a second five-year term in March 2018.
Ms. Velshi has extensive technical, regulatory and adjudication expertise in the area of energy. Throughout her career, she has worked in various capacities at Ontario Hydro and Ontario Power Generation. Ms. Velshi also previously served as a part-time Board member on the Ontario Energy Board, the economic regulator of the province of Ontario’s electricity and natural gas sectors.
Ms. Velshi is very active in the promotion of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), especially for young women. Since joining the CNSC as President and CEO, she has launched a women in STEM initiative, with the aim of considering ways to support women in STEM careers at the CNSC and elsewhere, and to further STEM education by working with interested partners. She has delivered several international keynote addresses about breaking down barriers for women in STEM, at venues that have included the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and to audiences such as the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Federal Women’s Program Advisory Committee.
Ms. Velshi was one of the founding members of Canada’s Women in Science and Engineering and served as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors of Scientists in School – a non-profit organization that provides STEM-focused workshops to more than 700,000 students each year. She is the recipient of the 2011 Women in Nuclear (WiN) Canada Leadership Award.
Ms. Velshi was one of 150 Canadian women to have their stories compiled in "Your Turn", a book to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary and inspire the next generation of women leaders.
Ms. Velshi is also very active in international development activities. She is the founding member of Focus Humanitarian Assistance Canada, an internationally recognized humanitarian assistance agency. She served for four years as the Aga Khan Foundation Canada's City Chair for Toronto for the World Partnership Events, Canada's largest annual event dedicated to increasing awareness and raising funds to fight global poverty.
Ms. Velshi holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Civil Engineering), a Master of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) and a Master of Business Administration – all from the University of Toronto.
Dr. John Wagner
Associate Laboratory Director
Idaho National Laboratory
Dr. John C. Wagner is the Associate Laboratory Director of INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology (NS&T) directorate. His previous roles included director of Domestic Programs in NS&T as well as director of the Technical Integration Office for the DOE-NE Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program at INL. Wagner initially joined INL as the chief scientist at the Materials and Fuels Complex in 2016. He has more than 20 years of experience performing research, and managing and leading research and development projects, programs and organizations. Wagner received a B.S. in nuclear engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1992, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Pennsylvania State University in 1994 and 1997, respectively. Following graduate school, Wagner joined Holtec International as a principal engineer, performing criticality safety analyses and licensing activities for spent fuel storage pools and storage and transportation casks. Wagner joined the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as an R&D staff member in 1999, performing research in the areas of hybrid (Monte Carlo/deterministic) radiation transport methods, burnup credit criticality safety, and spent nuclear fuel characterization and safety. While at ORNL, Wagner held various technical leadership positions, including technical lead for postclosure criticality in support of DOE OCRWM’s Lead Laboratory for Repository Systems, Radiation Transport Methods Deputy Focus Area lead for the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL), and national technical director of the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy’s Nuclear Fuels Storage and Transportation Planning Project. Wagner also held various management positions, including group leader for the Criticality and Shielding Methods and Applications, Radiation Transport, and Used Fuel Systems groups. In 2014, Wagner became director of the Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division (RNSD), with responsibility for management direction and leadership to focus and integrate the seven RNSD R&D groups (Advanced Reactor Systems and Safety, Nuclear Data and Criticality Safety, Nuclear Security Modeling, Radiation Transport, Reactor Physics, Thermal Hydraulics and Irradiation Engineering, and Used Fuel Systems) and the Radiation Safety Information Computational Center. Wagner is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society and recipient of the 2013 E.O. Lawrence Award. He has authored or co-authored more than 170 refereed journal and conference articles, technical reports, and conference summaries. He was the original developer of the A3MCNP and ADVANTG codes and led the development of the CADIS and Forward-Weighted CADIS hybrid transport methods.