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Special Talk by Dr. Bethany Goldblum
November 24, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Executive Director, NSSC
Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Nuclear Science for National Security Applications
While the probability of nuclear exchange may be low, the consequences are undeniably grave. My research focuses on methods to improve nuclear security and nonproliferation while advancing technically-sound policies. Via a series of vignettes, I discuss three main themes of my research—policy-relevant inquiry, data analytics, and applied nuclear physics. First, new types of nuclear warheads and emerging technologies raise questions concerning risks to strategic stability—questions that lack the observational data needed to answer them. I introduce experimental wargaming as a data-generating process, demonstrate the use of this technique to examine how tailored nuclear weapons affect the nuclear threshold, and showcase an extension of this work in the cyber domain. Second, recent progress in the development of multisensor networks has opened opportunities for non-radiological sensing of proliferation-relevant phenomena. Using novel machine learning methods, I demonstrate the transferable classification of nuclear reactor operations at facilities where ground truth is not available. Finally, at the very heart of effective nuclear security is a deep understanding of fundamental nuclear physics. At the 88-Inch Cyclotron at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, my team has demonstrated new methods for measuring the response of organic scintillators to recoil nuclei, data fundamental to the understanding of their fast neutron response. Our approach has been applied to determine the properties of organic scintillators for use in neutrino studies, fast neutron imagers, fusion diagnostics, and basic nuclear physics. Together, this work represents a concerted research effort at the nexus of science, technology, and policy to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons and related technologies.
Dr. Bethany Goldblum is a staff scientist in the Nuclear Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an associate research engineer in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. As Executive Director of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, she provides strategic direction for a multi-institution initiative that brings together eleven universities and five U.S. DOE National Laboratories to train the next generation of nuclear security experts. Her research focuses on low-energy nuclear physics, neutron detection, artificial intelligence for national security applications, and nuclear weapons policy. Goldblum leads the Bay Area Neutron Group, a research team focused on neutron detection for national security applications, and founded and directs the Nuclear Policy Working Group, an interdisciplinary team of scholars developing policy solutions to strengthen global nuclear security. She has been involved with the Public Policy and Nuclear Threats Boot Camp nearly since its inception, and acted as director of the program since 2014. She is author or co-author of more than 90 publications on nuclear science and policy issues and recipient of the 2020 Corones Award in Leadership, Community Building and Communication. Goldblum received a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Meeting ID: 918 2150 1141