Dr. Nils Diaz

The 2006 CNTA Edward Teller Lecture and Banquet

CNTA's 15th Annual Edward Teller Lecture/Banquet was another success! Dr. Nils Diaz, Chairman Emeritus of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was our guest speaker for this year's event. Dr. Diaz' lecture was well received by an audience of more than 400 people from all walks of life, in the ballroom at The Augusta Towers and Convention Center. It was a real pleasure for CNTA to host such a distinguished and notable speaker.

He had been a Commissioner with the NRC since 1996, and retired from the Chair in June 2006. The Chairman is the principal executive officer of the NRC and its official spokesman. As principal executive officer, the Chairman is responsible for conducting the administrative, organizational, long-range-planning, budgetary, and certain personnel functions of the agency.

Before his appointment, he was Professor of Nuclear Engineering Sciences at the University of Florida and Director of the Innovative Nuclear Space Power Institute (INSPI).

He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Nuclear Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida and a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Villanova, Havana. He has published more than 70 refereed papers in national and international journals. He is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Diaz spoke on his seven years as Chairman of the NRC and some of the improvements he was able to implement. Goals of improving reactor safety and security, and speeding up the licensing process, were largely realized. Dr. Diaz said he was pleased to leave the NRC during a renewal of nuclear power in the United States.

Dr. Diaz gave a moving talk that communicated his love of this country that many non-immigrants take for granted. He also spoke fondly of his college experiences at the University of Florida, where Dr. Tom Parkinson was his first faculty advisor. Dr. Parkinson and several of Dr. Diaz' students were in attendance, allowing for a "mini-reunion" for more than three generations of nuclear education.

He concluded by pointing out that the President's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is essential to the long-term health of the nuclear power industry and to America's energy security.

Dr. Todd Crawford presented the 2006 Fred C. Davison Distinguished Scientist Award to Dr. Brian Looney of the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL). Dr. Todd Wright, Director of SRNL, introduced the recipient of the 2006 Robert Maher Memorial Scholarship, Ms. Emily Colvin, a dual Bachelor's/Master's student at Georgia Tech.

Jeff Allison, DOE Manager of Savannah River Site, presented an engraved book, The Many Faces of Aiken, A Pictorial History by Will Cole, to Dr. Diaz as a remembrance of his visit to Aiken and our lecture. Dr. Susan Wood, Chair of the CNTA, presented him with a beautiful clock as a "Meritorious Service Award," engraved with: "For decades of outstanding service in nuclear education, basic nuclear science, and regulation of safe nuclear technologies as Chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission."

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our many sponsors, our CNTA membership, and supporters of the 2006 lecture. We are already working on the 2007 event.

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