National Award of Nuclear Science & History

2023 - Maria Korsnick, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute

The National Award of Nuclear Science and History is presented annually by the National Atomic Museum Foundation to a prominent person or organization that has had an impact on nuclear issues. The award celebrates the wide scope of achievement and commitment to furthering scientific endeavor made by individuals in areas of military leadership, medical technology, public policy and government, energy sciences, education and space exploration.

Maria Korsnick is president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry’s policy organization in Washington, D.C., and the recipient of the 2023 National Award for Nuclear Science & History.

Drawing on her engineering background, hands-on experience in reactor operations and a deep knowledge of energy policy and regulatory issues, Korsnick aims to increase understanding of nuclear energy’s economic and environmental benefits among policymakers and the public.

Before joining NEI, she was senior vice president of Northeast Operations for Exelon, responsible for overseeing operation of the Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2, R.E. Ginna, and Nine Mile Point 1
and 2 nuclear power plants.

Before Exelon, Korsnick served as chief nuclear officer (CNO) and acting chief executive officer at Constellation Energy Nuclear Group. She began her career at Constellation in 1986 and held positions of increasing responsibility, including engineer, operator, manager, site vice president, corporate vice president, and CNO.

Korsnick holds a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Maryland, and has held a Senior Reactor Operator license. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

Honorees become members of the International Advisory Council to the museum. Past honorees include:

1998: Dr. Glenn Seaborg, former head of AEC, co-discoverer of Plutonium and medical and nuclear researcher. Dr. Seaborg provided the initiation of this award and granted permission for his name to be used for the entry level Einstein Society membership category.

1999: Robert Henderson, Participant in the Manhattan Project and was an early Sandia Laboratory leader and prominent scientist who also received an academy award for innovations in lighting design.

2000: Gen. Paul W. Tibbetts was the Military Colonel responsible for operations of the 509th Composite Group and pilot of the B-29 Enola Gay that dropped first atomic bomb ending WWII.

2001: Dr. David Kuhl, was inventor of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) a medical scanning technology that lead to broad application of nuclear medical imaging technology.

2002: Sen. Harrison (Jack) Schmitt, honored as the last man to walk on the moon serving as an astronaut on Apollo 17. The Senator was also honored for dealing with arms control treaties and international nuclear proliferation policy.

2003: Dr. Andrew Kadak, honored for work as a prominent senior educator in nuclear engineering practices at the university level leading students to design nuclear power plants that will compete in tomorrow’s world.

2004: Dr. Ines Triay, was honored for community involvement, communication, policy and scientific work with the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant project. Dr. Triay was the first woman recipient of the award.

2005: Ambassador C. Paul Robinson, will be honored for work as the leader of Sandia National Labs, for impact on international nuclear non-proliferation accords and involvement in worldwide nuclear energy policy.

2006: Dr. Albert Ghiroso, discoverer or co-discoverer of 12 elements in the Actinide elements in the Periodic Table. Dr. Ghiroso currently works at Lawrence Livermore lab as an emeritus professor; his past activities with notable scientists include work with Dr. Glenn Seaborg and support of early atomic weapon testing verification by USSR.

2007: Mr. Richard Rhodes was honored as historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Making the Atomic Bomb,” later books such as “Dark Sun” and “Arsenals of Folly.”

2008: Senator Pete V. Domenici was honored for his steadfast support of the nuclear power industry as well as support of the national labs and his stance on STEM education. The Senator as been a major supporter of the Museum.

2009: Dr. Patrick Moore is a co-founder of Greenpeace and served for nine years as President of Greenpeace Canada and seven years as a Director of Greenpeace International. Dr. Moore currently serves as Chair and Chief Scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., a consultancy focusing on environmental policy and communications in forestry, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, mining, biodiversity, chemicals, energy and climate change.

2010: Murray Gell-Mann, Ph.D., Nobel Prize Laureate. Gell-Mann is one of today’s most prominent scientists. He is currently Distinguished Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute as well as the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, where he joined the faculty in 1955. In 1969 he received the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. He is the author of The Quark and the Jaguar, published in 1994, in which his ideas on simplicity and complexity are presented to a general readership.

2011: Dr. Helmut Engelbrecht, Chief Executive Officer of URENCO Ltd., a world leader in uranium enrichment technology and in the supply of uranium enrichment services, was the first industrialist and the first foreign citizen to receive the National Award for Nuclear Science & History.

2012: Dr. Lisa Randall is an American theoretical physicist and a leading expert on particle physics and cosmology. She is the Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University, where she works on several of the competing models of string theory in the quest to explain the fabric of the universe. Her most well-known contribution to the field is the Randall-Sundrum model, first published in 1999 with Raman Sundrum.

2013: Admiral Kirkland H. Donald of the US Navy served as the Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion and Deputy Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration's Naval Reactors from November 2004 to November 2012. He previously served as Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and Commander, Submarine Allied Command, Atlantic. He retired from the U.S. Navy on January 1, 2013, completing over 37 years of dedicated service.

2014: Southern Company, based in Atlanta, is one of America’s largest producers of electricity. As a leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and is a licensed operator of three nuclear generating plants. The company received the 2012 Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for it leadership in new nuclear development and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune’s annual World’s Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings.

2015: Gwyneth Cravens, author and environmentalist, wrote Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy. She has also written about her pro-nuclear stance, appearning in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper’s Magazine and Discover. She has also appeared as one of the environmental thinkers of “CNN Films: Pandora’s Promise.”

2016: Barry A. Siegel, M.D. is currently Professor of Radiology and Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, Director of the Division of Nuclear Medicine at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, and a member of the University’s Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center.

2017: U.S. Women in Nuclear is the premier network of over 8,000 women and men who work in nuclear- and radiation-related fields around the country. The membership includes professionals in various nuclear-related fields including Chief Nuclear Officers, reactor operators, engineers, researchers, health physicists, human resource professionals, nuclear communications professionals, policy makers, and lawyers in the nuclear industry to name a few.

2018: Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant and author. He leads NASA’s $880M New Horizons mission that successfully explored the Pluto system and is now exploring the Kuiper Belt—the farthest exploration in the history of humankind.

2019: Randall L. Stephenson is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AT&T, Inc. AT&T has invested to become a global leader in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) space, providing integrated solutions that range from premium content and video entertainment, to mobility and high-speed Internet, to IP network services, security and the Internet of Things (IoT).

2020: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there was no Einstein Gala or Awardee

2021: Cynthia C. Kelly is President and founder of the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Manhattan Project and its legacy. From 2002 on, AHF led efforts to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, working with Congress and Federal, State and local partners. The park was established in 2015.

2022: The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological research university in the United States, where she has led an extraordinary transformation since 1999. Described by Time Magazine as “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science,” Dr. Jackson has held senior leadership positions in academia, government, industry, and research. A theoretical physicist, Dr. Jackson holds an S.B. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics, both from MIT.