The 21st annual Teller Lecture Banquet was hosted by Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness on Monday at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
The Honorable Kristine L. Svinicki, commissioner for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, provided this year’s lecture.
Svinicki’s formal remarks focused on regulatory reactions in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan and policy decisions related to spent nuclear fuel, but even the distinguished nuclear engineer took note of a younger CNTA honoree’s achievements.
“I was sitting there contrasting myself, and I was a bit more of an indifferent student than apparently Matt is,” Svincki said. “He is really an impressive young man.”
Though not present, the achievements of the Robert Maher Memorial Scholarship winner, Matthew Correnti, impressed most and dropped many jaws in the audience.
Correnti is a senior at Furman University where he is carrying a 4.0 GPA with triple majors in chemistry, physics and mathematics.
“The list of scholars, scholarships and societies he is in takes up a whole page, so I’m going to have to abbreviate,” said Stuart MacVean, Savannah River Remediation’s operations and deputy project manager.
A member of four honors societies, Correnti is looking to obtain his master’s degree and Ph.D. in physical chemistry and forward research into alternative energy.
Though much-lauded as an up-and-coming scientist, Correnti is also an artist. Two pieces of woodwork, a desk and a table, have been nationally recognized at shows and featured in journals.
Svinicki also complimented CNTA’s work in reaching out to younger students.
“I think it is wonderful, the essay contest,” she said. “Getting some of this nuclear energy information to high school or even middle school students is a really wonderful ambition.”
Svinicki’s remarks focused on changes that have been made internationally and within the United States since Fukushima. She also gave a detailed account of the NRC’s role in finding a solution to nuclear waste storage questions since President Barrack Obama defunded the planned Yucca Mountain repository.
She ended her remarks by quoting the man for whom the lecture is named, Edward Teller.
“Life improves slowly and goes wrong, fast. And only catastrophe is clearly visible,” Svinicki said, quoting Teller.
The 2012 Fred C. Davison Distinguished Scientist Award was also announced, with Dr. John A. Swegle being the recipient.
Swegle is a senior advisory scientist with Savannah River National Laboratory’s Nonproliferation Technology Section.
His focus is the impact of foreign nuclear weapons programs and nuclear proliferation on United States arms control and proliferation policy.
Svinicki described Swegle’s work on directed energy weapons was “vital for national security.”