Frances Sutherland

Who you are and what your job title is – name, title, and any specialty area/s.

Frances Sutherland, Engineer. My technical projects tend to focus on nuclear chemical engineering.

Why you were interested in the agency – how did you choose the DNFSB?

I saw the DNFSB booth at a career fair when I was a junior in college. I became a summer intern and chose to return to DNFSB after I graduated because of the fantastic professional development program.

Overview of work/education before joining the agency – where are you originally from in the country, where you went to school (if young in career), and what, if any job experience did you have before coming to the DNFSB.

I was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but I spent most of my adolescence in rural western Maryland. I went to University of Maryland College Park and graduated with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. After entering the professional development program here, I went to MIT and earned my Master of Science degree in Nuclear Science and Engineering. My third year assignment was at Argonne National Laboratory right outside Chicago. There, I worked on the pyroprocessing project, which is an electrochemical process to purify uranium.

What is the best work aspect of your job – what is a unique experience the agency offers you?

I enjoy working in such a supportive work environment. Other engineers and scientists are always willing to help give background information and discuss technical concepts. Also, the ability to telework and earn credit hours help me maintain my work-life balance.

What is the best public service aspect of your job – what is important to you in terms of giving back?

I love that our job is look for opportunities to better protect the people that live and work around defense nuclear facilities.

What is the best people aspect of your job – who do you get to work with?

The people at DNFSB are extremely intelligent and committed to nuclear safety. Our staff includes many respected experts from the nuclear industry, knowledgeable PhDs, and highly-educated engineers. Working with such an excellent cohort stretches me to better myself and produce top-quality work. The DNFSB staff are also willing to share their knowledge and help other staffers so there is always someone to bounce ideas off of or talk through a tough problem with.

Who you think will enjoy working at the agency – What type of personality thrives?

I think people that are driven and curious will enjoy working at DNFSB. It is also important to enjoy working with other people because most of our work is done through review teams.