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Dr. Neil Todreas Honored With Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award

WASHINGTON—Dr. Neil E. Todreas, a noted professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a leader in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Generation IV reactor initiative, was awarded the Henry DeWolf Smyth Statesman Award here today by industry and academic organizations. Announced at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) annual conference, the award is given in recognition of statesmanlike contributions to the many aspects of nuclear energy activities.

Todreas’ remarkable career began in the late 1950s when he was an engineer on the Naval Reactors program staff of the legendary Admiral Hyman Rickover. He joined the faculty at MIT in 1970 and served as head of the school’s department of nuclear engineering from 1981-89. In 1992, the Korea Electric Power Co. named Todreas the first KEPCO Professor of Nuclear Engineering at MIT, establishing the professorship with a $2 million endowment.

Todreas has served in various advisory roles with DOE since 1985, most notably as co-chair of the Generation IV initiative. That initiative led to the Gen IV International Forum, an international consensus that focuses on a collaborative effort for the development of next-generation reactor designs.

The award was presented by James S. Tulenko, president of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and director of the Laboratory for Development of Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Materials at the University of Florida. Tulenko said of Todreas, “He has bridged academia and public service in contributing to the advancement of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. His stewardship and leadership in the Nuclear Power Reactor Safety Courses at MIT has had a great influence on utility executives, helping to develop a strong safety culture in our utility industry.”

Skip Bowman, NEI’s president and chief executive officer, recalled that Todreas co-advised on his MIT master’s degree thesis in nuclear engineering.

“Henry DeWolf Smyth was a pioneer in the vanguard of those who made the peaceful application of nuclear energy possible, and Dr. Todreas’ accomplishments honor Smyth’s legacy and make him a most worthy recipient of this award,” Bowman said.

In accepting the award, Todreas said, “Early in my career, I gained a superb technical education from the technical leaders in the Navy’s nuclear reactor program and from MIT’s nuclear engineering faculty. Equally significant, I developed from them a passion for this technology because of its ability to make a difference in peoples’ lives—a difference throughout the world.

“Nuclear energy is uniquely suited to contribute to the growing energy challenge—environmentally, economically and geo-politically. It produces no greenhouse gases, utilizes uranium fuel, which is abundant worldwide, and can contribute to hydrogen production.

“The receipt of the Smyth Award in part for my efforts in setting in place the building blocks for nuclear energy’s future is very much appreciated and will certainly be the spur for my continued efforts to make this vision the future reality.”

Quoting from one of the letters of nomination for Todreas, Tulenko said, “Neil is one of this generation’s greatest nuclear statesmen. He has had a far-reaching impact that ranges from his influence on students for the next generation—to his influence on policy, plans and institutional arrangements for a new generation of nuclear plants. He is truly a nuclear statesman and deserving of the award.”

Another letter of nomination stated, “Neil has made outstanding and statesmanlike contributions to the advance of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in many ways…(H)e has been a formative figure in shaping the Generation IV initiative which is an international effort that will lead to the next generation of nuclear reactors. In all these endeavors, he has brought his piercing intelligence, self-effacing manner, and deep knowledge to bear.”

The award was jointly established in 1972 by ANS and NEI. The award is named for Henry DeWolf Smyth, who chaired Princeton University’s physics department and authored the federal government’s official report on the development of the atomic bomb, “Atomic Energy for Military Purposes.” He served on the Atomic Energy Commission from 1949-54 and was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as the U.S. representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency with the rank of ambassador until 1970. Smyth also advocated an international partnership to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy.


The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at