Dr. Allison M. Macfarlane is Professor of Science Policy and International Affairs at the George Washington University, Director of the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy at the University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She was the 2018 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Australia. Dr. Macfarlane served as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from July 2012 through December 2014. Dr. Macfarlane holds a PhD in geology from MIT and a BSc in geology from the University of Rochester. She has taught at Georgia Tech and George Mason University. Dr. Macfarlane served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, created by the Obama Administration to develop a national strategy for the nation's high-level nuclear waste. She serves on the National Academy of Sciences Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board. In 2006, MIT Press published her co-edited book, Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation's High-Level Nuclear Waste.

Project Summary

Dr. Macfarlane plans to produce a book that takes on issues of democracy and energy in the context of climate change. Nuclear energy remains a contested issue globally. Accidents like those at Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima Dai'ichi in 2011 make clear the challenges of this technology. At the same time, as the profound effects of climate change become clearer, we need to meet our ravenous energy needs in ways that do not exacerbate the greenhouse gas problem. Nuclear energy could be one of them. But there are significant issues of democracy and public engagement in siting nuclear power in the 21st century, based on academic research and the lessons learned when Dr. Macfarlane was Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Major Publications

Déjà vu for U.S. Nuclear Waste

Burning Waste or Playing with Fire: Waste Management Considerations for Non-traditional Reactors

Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation's High-Level Nuclear Waste