US Contribution to the IAEA's Work


Summary of project/activities

Chad Painter


Assignment: September 2013 – September 2015

Projects/activities and Impact

Project Manager for the IAEA's program related to basic principle simulators for education. Chad coordinated and planned training courses related to the physics and technology of water-cooled reactors including reactivity control, thermodynamics, stability and control in steady state and in dynamic situations, technology design and safety system design. Training courses are important to help educate the next generation of nuclear engineers in countries with developed nuclear power programs and nuclear professionals in countries that are now embarking on new nuclear power programs (i.e., newcomer states). More Member States are becoming aware of this important educational program that distributes "basic principle" nuclear power plant simulators to help educate nuclear professionals.

While this program is aimed at university and learning centers, these simulators can help policy makers understand the important safety systems associated with various types of water-cooled reactors. Chad was also the Scientific Secretary responsible for planning and coordinating a Consultancy Meeting and Technical Meeting related to Severe Accident Mitigation through Improvements in Filtered Containment Venting for Water-Cooled Reactors as part of the IAEA's Action Plan in response to the Fukushima event. This effort sought to exchange scientific and technical information between developed and developing nations related to these important safety systems.

Upon completion of this two year effort, Member States will become more aware of these important safety systems, which if properly designed and operated will mitigate the consequences related to severe beyond design basis accidents.

Chad also supported the development of Consultancy and Technical Meetings related to the development of a Technology Roadmap for Small and Medium Sized Reactor Deployment. He was assigned lead responsibility for preparing a NE Series report related to this topic. This new report is important given the increasing interest in SMR technology by newcomer Member States. Upon completion of this three year effort, Member States will have access to a document that may allow them to make better science and technology (S&T) policy and investment decisions in terms of loan guarantees and incentives, industry lead initiatives, and human resource development.

Charles Dunning


Assignment: January 2010 – December 2013

Projects/activities and Impact

Charles provided expert assistance for the IAEA Water Availability Enhancement Project (IWAVE), which supported the development of comprehensive water-resources assessments in Member States. This project complimented other international, regional, and national initiatives to provide decision makers with reliable tools for better management of their water resources.

The IWAVE advanced the national hydrological understanding and strengthened national capabilities to conduct water-resource assessments and elevated to the highest national level the discussion of the gaps in hydrological understanding, data, and information. Furthermore, it improved the collaboration among water-sector agencies and experts to overcome institutional barriers that have isolated hydrological and isotopic data, programs, and expertise as well as strengthened the connection of technical experts in the water sector with the institutions providing isotopic analysis and nuclear applications in hydrology.

Specific outputs/milestones achieved during his assignment include: identified and documented the national-level gaps in hydrological understanding, data, and information, through a process unique to each Member State; developed and established a national IWAVE work plan to fill the identified gaps; implementation of elements of their work plan to fill priority gaps.

Christopher Wegner


Assignment: June 2013 – June 2015

Projects/activities and Impact

The objective of Chris' JPO was to lend expertise in public health to elucidating issues at the nutrition-environment nexus. He had an influential role in organizing a symposium on understanding moderate acute malnutrition, a form of undernutrition that affects 33 million children worldwide. The three-day symposium convened over 350 participants representing 63 countries, the majority of whom represented governments responding to moderate acute malnutrition in their populations. A series of articles on thirteen key topics from the symposium is being drafted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, of which he is the first author on the first paper. In addition, Chris has assisted spreading the use of nuclear techniques in Member States through support to national and regional projects via the Technical Cooperation Program (TC) and through Coordinated Research Projects (CRP).

His CRP project involves seven countries using nuclear techniques to assess the role of nutrition-sensitive agro-food systems in improving diet, health and nutritional status of vulnerable populations. The TC projects he’s involved include both national regional programs. His national projects include a program on using nuclear techniques to assess iron deficiency in Guatemala and to assess body composition for understanding obesity in Seychelles. The regional program he assists in includes 10 Member States in Africa in which he implements training, fellowships, expert missions, and scientific visits to assist the Member States evaluate the effects of ongoing country-level vitamin A programs on the vitamin A status of pre-school children. He also implements these activities for Member States to assess the impact of clinical and sub-clinical inflammation on vitamin A status and pre-school children through the use of nuclear techniques.

As a JPO at the IAEA, Chris has also assisted in organizing and participating in various meetings related to these CRP and TC projects, as well as separate meetings on topics including vitamin A deficiency, environmental enteropathy, and the use of body composition as a key indicator for evaluating interventions. These meetings have been crucial to increasing the opportunities for the exchange of ideas between attendees, illustrating the benefits of bringing together researchers and Member State representatives who share the same goal of working together to combat malnutrition in all its forms.

Dana Sacchetti


Assignment: January 2013 – January 2015

Projects/activities and Impact

A major focus in his post as Programme Officer is as lead project manager for a $5 million, donor-funded, public-private partnership project to establish a Virtual University for Cancer Control in Africa – an ambitious multiyear effort that seeks to assist Africa to face its human resource shortage in oncology by developing a system for local training. The project intends to reduce and eliminate the need for travel abroad for health professionals, thereby reducing the risk of so-called brain drain or medical migration.

He manages all aspects of the project, including budgeting, staffing, resource mobilization, project planning, monitoring and evaluation. Overall, Dana manages a portfolio of twenty countries and several cancer-focused projects, in addition to leading partnership and resource mobilization activities with major international organizations, development banks and the private sector. Though his work in this role has been incredibly rewarding, the challenge of confronting the rise of cancer across the developing world is daunting.

Hanano Yamada


Assignment: March 2010 – May 2014

Projects/activities and Impact

Hanano's main tasks were to develop and evaluate an effective and reliable sex separation system for mass reared mosquitoes, in particular Anopheles arabiensis (an important vector of malaria) for enhanced application of the sterile insect technique (SIT) in integrated vector management (IVM) programmes. Other tasks included the development mass rearing technology for mosquitoes, optimization of sterilization techniques using Gamma- and X-ray irradiation, training of interns and fellows from member states in mosquito insectary operations, and formulating and transferring protocols and QC manuals to member states.

Our research served to support a feasibility study to assess the potential use of the SIT as part of an area-wide integrated vector management (AW-IVM) strategy against the Anopheles arabiensis mosquito in the Northern State of the Republic of Sudan. Several other member states (mostly in Africa and Asia) in a joint effort with the FAO/IAEA are now laying the groundwork for the establishment of the SIT package for mosquitoes in the long-term aim to control mosquitoes of medical importance. One important impact of one of her research projects was to identify the potential environmental risks associated with the wide spread use of a genetic sexing system for An. arabiensis which requires the use of the insecticide dieldrin.

The results showed that the persistent chemical is retained by the mosquito and can bioaccumulate in the environment and contaminate the food chain. This led to the decision to discourage its large scale use in IVM programmes in our member states. In response to these findings, an alternative, environmentally friendly method to eliminate the female mosquitoes from the release material was developed for temporary application until novel, improved genetic sexing strains are developed. This method is currently being used in small scale field experiments in Sudan.

Jenna Achenbach


Assignment: September 2013 – September 2016

Projects/activities and Impact

The Animal Production and Health Laboratory (APHL) of the Joint FAO/IAEA division were in need of an expert to build a program for African swine fever (ASF). Presently, there is a lack of information about currently circulating genotypes and subtypes of ASF virus (ASFV) in many IAEA African Member States (MS). A better understanding of the molecular epidemiology of ASV at the country and regional level is crucial to understand the dynamics of ASF spread. Jenna's assignment has been to set up an assay for ASF viral isolation and sequence the full genomes of ASFV using next generation sequencing to aid in the elucidation of the virus to aid in the future design of a viable vaccine against ASF. Her direct interaction with several MS to acquire clinical samples has allowed the IAEA to create a much needed ASFV isolate bank for comparative biological and genomic studies. In 2014, Jenna molecularly characterized over 300 ASF isolates from multiple countries. The data from these results were given back to MSs to help with their regional picture of the movement of the virus throughout Africa and Jenna is assisting five countries with publications involving their data.

Jenna is also directly involved with MSs and supports the management of the laboratory network by providing training, supplies, troubleshooting and analysis of data. This involvement included the transfer and implementation of tools and techniques through a training course in 2014 (utilizing the extra budgetary funding provided by PUI-USA and ARF) which has led to increased diagnostic capacities in 15 MS veterinary laboratories. The course was designed to assist MS on practical approaches of implementing new assays as part of their routine work and also for contingency preparedness to face new transboundary animal diseases.

Jenna's work is supporting a new coordinated research project (CRP) on African swine fever which aims to address the early and rapid diagnosis and control of ASF. This CRP includes 13 countries from Africa and Europe, working together to enhance the proficiency of National Veterinary Laboratories in diagnosing and characterizing ASFV strains collected during outbreaks. She has worked directly with several MSs under this CRP through training, supplying reagents and providing sequencing services.

Jenna is actively involved in the planning and implementation of the VETLAB Network 'laboratory head' meetings for Asia and Africa. The VETLAB network is designed to provide the opportunity for countries to work together for the control of transboundary animal diseases. The Animal Production and Health Laboratory provides assistance in creating a better coordination of their activities through training, foster an environment of information sharing through the sharing of expertise and experiences, and bring the laboratories together to develop common disease control strategies.

James Beavers


[Cost Free Expert]   Assignment: July 2015 – July 2017

Projects/activities and Impact

Since the start of Jim’s assignment as a Cost Free Expert in the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre, he has coordinated with the Agency’s Division of Nuclear Security in the development of security publications for nuclear power plant operating organizations to ensure a proper interface and consistency with EPR safety standards. He contributed to the validation and further development of the nuclear power reactor assessment procedures and tools and contributed to the testing of these procedures and tools in Convex-2d exercises jointly carried out with Canada, France and Switzerland. Based on his experience and knowledge as operator involved in EPR, he has been able to contribute to defining the right structure and content of the assessment checklists and tools elaborated up to know and envisaged to be further enhanced. Jim's contribution enhanced overall the capability of the Incident and Emergency System to perform the task of assessment and prognosis.

Jim has also been was able to provide information to US agency representatives either directly or through electronic correspondence thus promoting US-international cooperation. Included in that is participation in the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre for the NRC Chairman Stephen Burns.

Kristine Madden


Assignment: September 2015 – September 2017

Projects/activities and Impact

Since the beginning of Kristine’s JPO, her main tasks have included acting as technical officer for the US funded project to apply SSR-2/1 requirements to the small modular reactor technologies. The SSR-2/1 provide the IAEA safety requirements for the design of land based stationary nuclear power plants with water cooled reactors designed for electricity generation or for other heat production applications.

Kristine has also acted as Section lead for a US funded project to develop an assessment and diagnostic tool for the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC). The IAEA has developed several specialized tools and databases to support its new assessment and prognosis role. These tools include a reactor assessment tool, public protective actions tool, radiological emergency tool, source assessment tool and database containing static technical information from nuclear reactors within the IAEA Emergency Preparedness Information Management System (EPRIMS).

Currently, these tools have been successfully demonstrated to Member States during routine emergency exercises. This project would further develop these tools and procedures into a standalone software package that can be used by IAEA staff members during emergencies and shared with Member States. In particular, the tools would be refined to include all reactor types and the necessary static information required to make the EPRIMS system effective in helping the IAEA staff assess critical safety systems would be collected and implemented.

Also in support of the IEC, Kristine has provided support of a project to develop severe accident management guidelines template. This ensures safety assessment considerations are taken into account in support of IEC development of severe accident management guidelines template.

Charles Thompson


Assignment: June 2015 – June 2017

Projects/activities and Impact

For the first year of Charlie's assignment as a Junior Professional Officer in the Marine Environmental Science Laboratories in Monaco, he assisted the laboratory with method validation for the analysis of total mercury in seawater. They developed a simplified method for ultra-low (sub-ppt) analysis of seawater, which will be used to assist UN Member States with mercury monitoring associated with the future ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The laboratory has been actively involved in a number of inter-laboratory comparison studies, and mercury analysis has been a part of these studies which he has been able to contribute to by organizing and carrying out the analysis of these samples.

In October 2015, the laboratory, in collaboration with UN Environment Programme, hosted a training course for the Program for the Assessment and Control of Pollution in the Mediterranean (MED POL) with participants from 14 Mediterranean countries. During this training, Charlie instructed participants on procedures for low-level methyl mercury analysis in seawater as part of the IAEA’s on-going effort to support national and regional laboratories in marine contaminant monitoring.

Megan Lobaugh


Assignment: August 2015 – August 2016

Projects/activities and Impact

During Megan’s assignment with the Division for Latin America and the Caribbean, she managed two regional projects for member states of the Caribbean:

  1. Strengthening Cradle-to-Grave Control of Radioactive Source and
  2. Establishing and Strengthening Sustainable National Regulatory Infrastructures for the Control of Radiation Sources.
Many of the Member States from the Caribbean have only recently joined the IAEA, so the objectives of these projects focus on supporting these countries in establishing and strengthening regulatory framework including law, regulations, and policy, as well as management of radioactive sources for secure and safe use. These projects provide capacity-building in these areas by means of trainings and workshops. Because of her work with the Member States in the Caribbean, she is also working on a joint team with the Division for Asia and the Pacific on a new initiative for developing and tailoring the Technical Cooperation Programme to the needs of the Small Islands Developing States. Megan is working with Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and the UN Department of Public Information to produce an outreach film showcasing 10 years of Technical Cooperation in Nuclear Medicine in Latin America.

In addition to her management duties in the Technical Cooperation Department, Megan has qualified to be a Radiation Safety Specialist in the IAEA Incident and Emergency System.

Carolina Funkey


Assignment: September 2015 – August 2017

Projects/activities and Impact

The objective of Carolina’s assignment in the Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory in Monaco has been to develop analytical methods using carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes as a tool to assess organic matter cycling in the marine environment, fingerprint oil contaminant sources and investigate eutrophication processes in the costal marine environment. During her first year, I have been involved with the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation (TC) programme to provide technical assistance to Member States requiring the development and implementation of the isotope techniques for understanding climate change and pollution processes in vulnerable coastal marine environments. In this context, two TC fellows from Sri Lanka were trained on the operation of the elemental analyzer- isotope ratio mass spectrometer (EA-IRMS) along with sample preparation procedures for measuring the elemental composition of total carbon, organic carbon, total nitrogen and the isotopic values of carbon and nitrogen. The environmental samples (a sediment core and a variety of biota samples) the TC members have learned and prepared on have been collected from Negombo lagoon, Sri Lanka. The results will be disseminated in a peer reviewed journal. In addition, standard operating procedures for the preparation of marine samples for the stable isotope measurements have been prepared to assist Member States with the use of stable isotopes techniques in the marine environment.

Jenna Pinkham


Assignment: October 2015 – October 2016

Projects/activities and Impact

Jenna provided support to the Radiation Protection of Patients Unit in the area of radiation protection and safety in diagnostic imaging and image-guided procedures. She has been particularly focusing on patient dose management, prevention of tissue reactions and supporting the SAFety in RADiological procedures (SAFRAD) project.

“I was considering a career as a medical physicist, and my internship allowed me to interact with a lot of people in the field. Ultimately I decided it wasn't for me, but I'm so glad I was able to learn about it.”

David Springfels


Assignment: October 2015 – October 2016

Projects/activities and Impact

David assisted with several coordinated research projects. For one project, Benchmarks of Computational Tools against Experimental Data on Fuel Burnup and Material Activation for Utilization, Operation and Safety Analysis of Research Reactors, David supported the organization of the coordinated research meeting and the analysis of the preliminary results of the benchmark studies. He also assisted in the finalization of an IAEA publication on safety considerations for aqueous homogeneous research reactors and sub-critical assemblies. David also helped develop a publication on self-assessment of research reactor safety, which will include web-based self-assessment modules.

“My internship opened doors in the international community for further career advancement. My current JPO position would not have been available to me without the experience gained through my internship.”

Robert Zedric


Assignment: November 2015 – November 2016

Projects/activities and Impact

Robert joined the Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory where he contributed to the development of an innovative radiation detector system for low energy x-ray, gamma spectrometry, neutron and charged particle detection, in which silicon avalanche photodiodes, scintillators (LiF/ZnS, Srl2) and LaBr3) and SiC photodiodes will be used. Robert's responsibilities included helping assemble components (electric boards, detectors, optical and mechanical components), test the detectors overall performance (efficiency, dynamic range, rate capabilities), measure the radiation hardness, and finally, document the test results for publication.

“I came away from this with useful new skills and a better understanding of the complexities of research. More importantly, I have a fresh outlook for the kinds of career paths that are available to me. I am better prepared for the workforce and will bring with me the many lessons and experiences gained.”

Countries impacted by U.S. expert's work