The Promise and Perils of Nuclear Energy


Ken BrooksKen Brooks is the director of business development and private industry collaborations at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR). Brooks is a CPA and earned his MBA in 1992. During his nearly 20 years at MURR, Brooks has held various leadership roles ranging from financial to operational to project management.  While at MURR, his team created an accomplished history of basic and applied research that lead to new diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine options for patients.  Past successes and a growing research pipeline in turn lead to the need for business arrangements to ensure the necessary radioactive ingredients are safely and reliably supplied.

Scott BurnellScott Burnell’s tenure as a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson at agency headquarters in Rockville, Md., goes back to 2003. Scott has worked with agency staff on issues including lessons learned from the Fukushima accident, research activities and operating/new nuclear reactors. Prior to joining the agency, Scott spent more than a decade as a reporter and editor for United Press International, technical magazines/websites, daily newspapers and the U.S. Army. Scott earned a bachelor’s degree in English/Journalism, summa cum laude, from the University of New Hampshire in 1995.

Larry CriscioneLarry Criscione is a licensed professional engineer in the Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical and Nuclear branches.  He served as a submarine warfare officer aboard the fleet ballistic missile submarine USS GEORGIA.  He was an NRC-licensed Senior Reactor Operator at Callaway Plant in Missouri and worked for Exelon and FirstEnergy prior to joining the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009.  He currently works in the NRC's Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research in the Human Factors and Reliability Branch. Criscione spoke at the 2015 Whistleblower Summit in Washington, D.C.

Rick EastmanRick Eastman is a legislative representative for Ameren Missouri. He works in the Government Relations Department and is responsible for community outreach and grassroots education through Ameren Missouri’s POWERforward Stakeholder Initiative. He has worked at Union Electric/Ameren Missouri for 31 years in a number of areas including Nuclear (at Callaway), Energy Delivery, Quality Improvement, Compensation, Internal Audit and Human Resources. Prior to joining Ameren Missouri, Eastman worked as a television news reporter and anchor at KTVO in Kirksville.

Jeffrey FergusonJeffrey Ferguson is a research assistant professor at the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center. His research focuses on using analytical chemistry to characterize archaeological materials – primarily ceramics and obsidian. Regional areas of focus include the American Southwest, Great Basin, and Northern Japan. Additional archaeological research topics include experimental archaeology, skill and apprenticeship, hunter-gatherer behavioral ecology, and children in the archaeological record. He recently received ans NSF collaborative grant to examine hunting territories in the Mesa Verde area using faunal bone isotope analysis and has been the PI on the last five years of NSF grants supporting the MURR Archaeometry Laboratory.

Heather HennkensHeather Hennkens is an assistant research professor at theUniversity of Missouri Research Reactor. She received her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis. Her current research focuses on the multidisciplinary field of radiopharmaceuticals, which are radioactive drugs used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Hennkens has extensive experience in the production of radioisotopes; the design and development of cancer-targeting compounds labeled with radioisotopes; and the evaluation of radiolabeled compounds in cells, animal models of disease, and humans. Prior to joining the MU faculty in 2011, she worked as a Study Director/Team Leader within the Bioanalytical Services department of ABC Laboratories in Columbia, MO.

Kevin KampsKevin Kamps has served as radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear since 2007, and at NIRS from 1999 before that. As a board member of Don’t Waste MI since 1993, he organizes against proposed new atomic reactors and radioactive waste dumps in the Great Lakes region, and watchdogs the existing ones. Kamps’ recent reactor focus has been on age-related degradation, such as reactor pressure vessel embrittlement at Palisades, MI and containment cracking and corrosion at Davis-Besse, OH. His waste focus is on preventing a Yucca Mountain dump in the heart of the Great Lakes, and Mobile Chernobyl risks of parking lot dumps.

Kattesh V. KattiKattesh V. Katti is Curators’ Professor of Radiology and Physics and director of the Institute of Green Nanotechnology at MU. He is internationally recognized in the fields of chemistry, nuclear sciences, radiopharmaceuticals, green nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Katti’s citations include the International Hevesy Medal Award (2015) and election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2013. He strongly believes in eliminating toxic chemicals in the production of engineered nanoparticles. In his “green nanotechnology” work, Katti uses phytochemicals from plants and herbs to produce nanoparticles for detecting and treating diseases including cancer and osteoarthritis.

Dave LochbaumDave Lochbaum is one of the nation’s top independent nuclear power experts. As director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project, Lochbaum monitors ongoing safety issues at U.S. reactors, testifies before Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and provides analysis of nuclear plant conditions and incidents, such as the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi facility in Japan. A nuclear engineer by training, Lochbaum worked at nuclear power plants for 17 years before leaving as a whistleblower. He is often cited in news reports and co-wrote the book, Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (2014).

Kari LydersenKari Lydersen is a Chicago-based reporter for Midwest Energy News and other outlets. She has covered nuclear energy issues including the fate of Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet, the interplay of nuclear and renewable energy, and nuclear waste storage. Lydersen also teaches journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and co-directs the Social Justice News Nexus, a fellowship program housed at Medill. She is the author of five books, including “Closing the Cloud Factories” about Chicago’s two archaic coal plants. Her work has also appeared in outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Economist, Discover Magazine and People Magazine.

William H. MillerWilliam H. Miller is professor emeritus in the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he has taught graduate nuclear engineering for 39 years. He is the author of over 125 technical papers and has made over 1,000 presentations to the public on issues concerning energy, the environment, radiation and nuclear power. He is a registered professional engineer and a certified health physicist. His Ph.D. was in nuclear engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is currently a research scientist at the University of Missouri Research Reactor.

J. Scott PetersenJ. Scott Peterson is the senior vice president for communications at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group. He directs the Institute’s public affairs activities, including media relations, coalition management, advertising, editorial and creative services, public opinion research and industry communications. Peterson has directed public affairs programs that support enactment of federal legislation, including the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and congressional approval of the nation’s nuclear fuel repository site, and recognition of nuclear energy in international climate change policy. He was previously a reporter and columnist at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. He also is a member of the National Press Club.

Ed SmithEd Smith is the Safe Energy Director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. He joined MCE in 2011 to work on energy policy, specifically to defend Missouri's ban on Construction Work In Progress and promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. Smith's work expanded as he became MCE's watchdog of the Callaway 1 nuclear reactor and advocate for communities surrounding the smoldering and radioactive West Lake Landfill Superfund site in St. Louis County. Ed graduated with a BS in Political Science from Missouri State University.

Angela SpeckAngela Speck is Professor of Astrophysics and Director of Astronomy at MU. Named after the iconic Angela Davis, she likes bright colors, is a nerd at heart, and has wanted to be an astronaut since she was 5 years old. Originally from Yorkshire (England) she went to college in London where she was able to pursue her childhood dreams by majoring in astrophysics. After a brief stint as an R&D technician in a Lancashire company run by crazy new-age hippies, she returned to London and completed a PhD in astronomy. She continues to research and teach astrophysics and to share her passion for all things extra-terrestrial.

William Roger WitherspoonJournalist Wm. Roger Witherspoon has spent nearly 50 years working in the media, and his resume spans many publications, including the New York Daily NewsAtlanta Constitution, CNN, and WCBN radio. He has managed environmental grants for Exxon Corp., worked in education, and wrote “Martin Luther King, Jr. … to the Mountaintop” (1985). He is a founder of the Association of Black Journalists, which grew into the present National Association of Black Journalists, and a current board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Witherspoon has covered health, science, environment and energy issues since the 1970s.