In 1945, The Manhattan Project took place resulting in the first atomic bomb. These bombs landed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Ever since, the production and usage of nuclear weaponry has raised ethical concerns.
“I try to understand how policymakers and negotiators think, explore current nuclear challenges, and then try to evolve technical frameworks to meet the world as it is”
– Leda Zimmerman (2019)
Dr Mareena Robinson Snowden is a nuclear engineer. She has conducted extensive research of the modernisation and non-proliferation of nuclear weaponry. Dr Snowden was a fellow of the Stanton Nuclear security programme. There she worked in nuclear arms control verification department. She was also a part of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She devised action plans about the use and production of nuclear weapons.
Snowden didn’t intentionally go into Physics. In fact, she accepted an offer to study business at Florida A&M University. Her plan was to become a lawyer or a businesswoman. Yet, at Florida, her scientific endeavours began. Her father convinced her to visit the Physics department and she graduated with a BSc in Physics. In 2018, Dr Snowden became the first Black woman to get a PhD in Nuclear Engineering at MIT!
Her main area of research concerned the development of a ‘passive detection system that could detect the presence of nuclear warheads [through] their radioactive signatures’
This evolution of events is a testament to the fact that we do not have to have every single career move mapped out. Creating a plan too rigid means you can miss windows of opportunity that life may throw at you. We should always explore our hidden talents and passions. One day, it can contribute to making a difference in the world.
Dr Mareena Robinson Snowden’s journey into Engineering is inspiring. Her hard work and determination is evident in the incredible things that she has achieved. Reading her work on Nuclear Policy was enjoyable. It is great to also see how it is implemented in the height of nuclear crises. Her achievements highlight how STEM plays such an important part in the world. It is rewarding to know how these impactful changes can benefit society.
If you feel inspired, watch this interview from Dr Mareena about her journey in gaining a PhD at MIT and check out her website.
This article has been written by Stemette Society member, Jada.
Last updated June 2020.