December 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Alumni News | Park Holds Key Position in Department of Energy

Dr. Brent Park, portrait

Dr. Brent Park (photo provided by NNSA)

by Kristin Distel

Dr. Brent Park, who earned his doctoral degree in Physics at OHIO, has been named the Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

He was nominated for his position by President Donald Trump, and his subsequent U.S. Senate confirmation, which resulted in a unanimous vote, took place on March 22, 2018.

Park “leads and coordinates NNSA’s efforts to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation and reduce the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism around the world,” according to the Department of Energy’s website.

Park notes that he approaches his duties as deputy administrator via “a four-pronged approach”—“enhancing the capability to detect weapons of mass destruction; preventing and reversing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; protecting or eliminating weapons and weapons-usable material or infrastructure and redirecting excess foreign weapons expertise to civilian enterprises; and reducing the risk of accidents in nuclear fuel cycle facilities worldwide.”

‘Bilateral Meetings with 25 Countries’

In September, Park served as a member of the U.S. delegation attending the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna, Austria. He notes that in his role with NNSA and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, he is often tasked with many of the issues that arose at the conference.

“As such, I had bilateral meetings with 25 countries in a span of few days to learn from and build relationships with our foreign partners and to better coordinate how to better focus nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes. We have challenges to overcome, but it was humbling experience to find and work with so many countries that share the same values as the United States,” Park states.

A Strong Foundation at OHIO

While a student at OHIO, Park worked particularly closely with Professor Jack Rapaport, who served as his dissertation adviser. Park also worked alongside Roger Finley and Rapaport’s experimental nuclear physics team.

Though many milestones and achievements marked his time at OHIO, Park thinks back particularly fondly on the experiences that Rapaport’s mentorship facilitated.

“Jack encouraged and allowed me to work on many experiments at Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility and Indiana University Cyclotron Facility, introduced me to world-class physicists, and provided me with a number of exceptional opportunities. With Jack’s help, I served as a spokesperson on several nuclear physics experiments right after I completed my Ph.D. work,” Park explains.

Park also credits Rapaport with helping him network and putting him in touch with people and organizations that helped launch his career.

“Professor Jack Rapaport is responsible for my joining Los Alamos National Laboratory, DOE’s premier national security laboratory, as a Ph.D. student. It is at Los Alamos that I was exposed to world-class physicists and engineers,” he states.

‘An Invaluable Experience’

On Sept. 28, Park gave at physics colloquium at OHIO titled “The Science Behind Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Security,” which was well-received among attendees. During this colloquium, he noted the strong foundation OHIO provided him, especially the excellent faculty and learning environment on which the university prides itself.

“The opportunity to work with peers and mentors who both inspired and challenged me was an invaluable experience,” he remarks.

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