- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Katlyn Turner: Spotlighting Nuclear Waste and Emerging Technologies

  • Hannah Ebanks
| Summer 2019

As a millennial, Katlyn Turner grew up hearing about big issues like the conflict in Iraq, universal healthcare, and climate change. She had a desire to solve an issue with a similar magnitude, and in college a professor introduced her to nuclear energy. Now, Turner is studying nuclear waste and emerging technologies in the nuclear energy cycle as a joint research fellow with the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom and International Security Program. 

A common misconception about nuclear energy is that it’s “clean,” since it does not produce a lot of carbon dioxide, Turner said, but all alternative energy sources have pros and cons and an environmental impact. “Within the policy community there’s the misconception that the waste issue isn’t important; that the important issues are only proliferation or nuclear security or nuclear accidents,” Turner said. “But actually, the issue of waste, if it’s not handled, is a security issue.” 

Turner compared the lack of public care surrounding nuclear waste to climate change, since it is modeled and legislated on a million-year scale and hard for people to grasp. One of her projects is considering what impact nuclear waste will have in the near future. 

“This literally affects all of us, but there’s a small percentage of people who study it,” Turner said. “So whenever I’m trying to explain an issue like nuclear energy, it’s from the perspective of trying to bring people in and be inclusive,” she added. 

Turner, who is from the small town of Granger, Indiana, is aware that she is fortunate to have had access to an education that many people do not have. With that mindset, she tries to take advantage of her time as a fellow at the Belfer Center. She attends as many educational events as possible at the Kennedy School, especially to hear major presentations and discussions in the JFK Jr. Forum. In her free time, she takes advantage of activities unique to Boston, like attending Red Sox games or exploring the city’s colonial history.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

"Katlyn Turner: Spotlighting Nuclear Waste and Emerging Technologies." Belfer Center Newsletter. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (Summer 2019).

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