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Johnafred Thomas

Applying past fellowship experience to present nuclear security facility operations position

Johnafred Thomas

Photo credit: Y-12

Johnafred Thomas, an operations manager and 22-year employee at the Y-12 National Security Complex, is contributing to efforts of vital importance to national security through his role at a nuclear facility in the complex. “Our work supports those brave men and women who defend our nation in times of war and peace… I am proud to be a small part of such a great mission,” he said.

Thomas’ professional success was preceded by early-career participation, from 1989 to 1991, in the DOE Operational Health Physics Fellowship Program, administered by ORAU. The opportunity facilitated his completion of a graduate degree in health physics from the University of North Carolina in 1991 as well as a three-month practicum with ORAU’s Professional Training Programs. During his fellowship, he assisted with laboratory exercises/training and emergency response drills. He also gained a better understanding of operational health physics and how it could be applied in a laboratory, hospital or manufacturing environment. In 1991, he came to work at Y-12 as a radiological engineer.

Thomas finds himself continually drawing from the skills he gained during his participation in the program. “Exposure to a diverse environment, like a DOE site, can entice young students and researchers to enter a world that has unique situations, challenges, hazards and environments, unlike any in general industry,” he said. “These opportunities create excitement, energy and a passion for science and engineering that can lead to a challenging, satisfying career.”

In Thomas’ opinion, the DOE complex will continue to solve difficult problems, both new and from past generations. “Success in this area,” he said, “is dependent on the continual supply of professional men and women, armed with confidence, knowledge and a breadth of experience that comes from participation in these types of programs.”