May 27, 2021

Nuclear Security Fellowship Completes First Virtual Cohort

Fellows bring technology, policy skills to security job market

NGFP is building future leaders for nuclear security

The NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program, administered by PNNL, is building future leaders to strength the nation through nuclear security.

(Composite image by Jamie Gority | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) is designed around a mission to build future leaders to help strengthen the nation through nuclear security. While pandemic restrictions kept this year’s fellows primarily at home, it did not keep them from gaining valuable skills and experience. On May 10, the program celebrated the completion of the Class of 2020-2021—48 fellows who made up the program’s first fully virtual cohort.

“This year changed our definition of ‘hands-on’ experience. By drawing on the program’s long-standing history of dynamic leadership development, we changed the way we connect and build future leaders,” said Melanie Godinez, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) NGFP program manager. PNNL administers NGFP on behalf of the NNSA to hire recent and current graduate-level students into year-long assignments across the nuclear security enterprise.

The virtual closing ceremony reflected on the fellows’ year-long assignments with a series of speakers, including Acting Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Charles P. Verdon and Deb Gracio, associate laboratory director for PNNL’s National Security Directorate, and poster presentations by the fellows. Read more about the closing ceremony on the NNSA news site.

NGFP Class of 2020-2021 virtual closing ceremony
The NGFP Class of 2020-2021 virtual closing ceremony featured a series of guest speakers from NNSA, PNNL, and the current cohort. (Image by Maren Disney | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

While employment is not guaranteed at the end of the fellowship, the program seeks to retain fellows’ experience within the national security mission space. As of May 2021, nearly a third of the class has accepted federal offers with the NNSA. A virtual career fair also connected the cohort with 26 employers and nearly 100 representatives from across the nuclear security enterprise. Nearly 330 connections were made, including more than 170 audio/video chats. 

With the completion of the Class of 2020-2021, the next class of fellows is hot on their heels to begin their assignments in June 2021, and PNNL is accepting applications for the Class of 2022-2023. Current or recent graduate students can apply online at


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Published: May 27, 2021