For 20 years, Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness has honored a top scientist from South Carolina’s Savannah River Site with the Fred C. Davison Distinguished Scientist Award.
A single individual is recognized atop hundreds and hundreds of engineers, material scientists and chemical and nuclear engineers at SRS. The 2016 award winner, Dr. Christine Langton, was recognized at last week’s annual Teller Lecture.
“It is an honor. It reflects the people that wrote the recommendation and supported this nomination. I am so impressed and grateful for their time and effort. Everyone is so busy, they just went out of their way to support my nomination,” she said.
Langton has worked in the Savannah River National Lab at SRS for 33 years, starting during the Dupont days. She left Pennsylvania after earned her doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering from Penn State University.
“I was research faculty at Penn State and some of my colleagues there said that Dupont was a No. 1 company to work for. I accepted a job interview and when I got off the plane in Augusta in December, I was amazed. There were flowers blooming, I will never forget it,” she said. “I had a horse and Aiken was a vibrant horse community and during my job interview at Savannah River I was so impressed by the diversity of the disciplines represented at the laboratory. I couldn’t say no. It was an ideal situation.”
The only gap in her 33 years of service at SRS came during four months between 2004-05 when Langton travelled to Baghdad. She served as a materials consultant focusing on water resources and dam remediation. The dams vital to irrigation and water management in the war-stricken nation were vital for reconstruction efforts.
Langton also answered the international nuclear call after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. She helped develop solutions for leaking concrete that was allowing groundwater to seep into the nuclear facility.
Among her accomplishments, Langton said one of her biggest was working with the reactor decommissioning projects at SRS. She said material she provided to those missions helped get them completed ahead of schedule and under budget. She also said the mentoring program in the lab is another source of pride.
“I’ve mentored quite a few young people since I’ve been here and that’s always rewarding,” she said.
Thomas Gardiner is the Savannah River Site beat reporter for the Aiken Standard.