Reyes receives ANS Professional Women's Achievement Award

Sept. 18, 2012

Susana Reyes (Download Image)

Reyes receives ANS Professional Women's Achievement Award

LLNL nuclear engineer Susana Reyes is the 2012 recipient of the American Nuclear Society Mary Jane Oestmann Professional Women's Achievement Award. In addition to receiving this prestigious award, Reyes has had a dynamic career taking her around the globe.

Reyes serves as vice-chair of the ANS Fusion Energy Division. The award recognizes Reyes' "leadership in developing detailed hazard and safety analyses for both inertial and magnetic fusion facilities, including NIF and ITER, and future power reactors." The award is given annually for outstanding personal dedication and technical achievement by a woman in the fields of nuclear science, engineering, research or education.

She was initially drawn to the Lab during one of her New Energy Technologies classes while completing her master's in power engineering in Madrid. She says: "Then I really got fascinated by the promise of laser fusion as a clean, safe and unlimited energy source for the future generations."

After completing her doctoral research at LLNL, Reyes decided to stay as a staff scientists because of the Lab's cutting edge research in her area of expertise, as well as the fact that the "Laboratory is able to offer opportunities to international researchers such as myself, to develop a successful career in such an exciting field."

Since the 1980's, the number of women obtaining higher degrees in science has consistently risen, and Reyes agrees that the scientific climate is changing. As she says: "It is very satisfactory as a woman to see that trend, but I think that in general we are still far from the ideal balance in terms of access to opportunities that may facilitate success of women in science and technology." However, Reyes has served as an inspiration to women in science internationally as the vice-chair/chair elect of the Fusion Energy Division devoted to the promotion of fusion energy as a sustainable energy source.

Reyes also is a leader of the LIFE (Laser Inertial Fusion Energy) Project, directing effort for licensing and tritium systems. This project reflects the need for a new energy source and as Reyes explains: "I think all of us, and in particular the younger generations, are becoming aware of the challenges posed by global population increase and energy demand."

Prior to the LIFE Project, Reyes worked on the ITER project in Southern France, another project toward the development of fusion energy. However, ITER will "demonstrate the ignition of magnetically confined fusion plasma" and not provide electricity. Reyes commends the LIFE approach for its proposal of a "one-step solution to the commercialization of fusion energy." This efficient use of the fusion fuel would be both safe and easier to license.

Aside from work, Reyes is an active philanthropist. She volunteers at science fairs, career conferences like Expanding Your Horizons and the STEM fair that highlight young women and encourage them to further their scientific knowledge. As an avid music lover, Reyes volunteers frequently at the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Symphony. In addition to her charitable efforts, Reyes loves yoga, skiing and traveling. She reflects that, "I feel quite lucky that my professional career has given me the opportunity to live in wonderful places, such as California and Southern France."

Reyes' passion for alternative energy greatly aids the Lab's efforts, and her sunny outlook surely serves as inspiration for those who collaborate with her. This Spanish scientist hit the ground running, and it seems her scientific bucket list is limitless.

-- By Delaynie Koenig