Discovering the proper chemistry: balancing household and nuclear safeguards


By analyzing samples to confirm international locations’ nuclear materials declarations, Analytical Chemist Urska Repinc contributes to the IAEA’s mission to confirm the peaceable use of nuclear materials – an exercise generally known as nuclear safeguards.

“I really feel privileged to work on the IAEA and have a powerful sense of duty for the outcomes we report. This place permits me to make use of my information, expertise and skills in a stimulating method, ”says Repinc.

Repinc works throughout the IAEA’s Workplace of Safeguards Evaluation Laboratories, which incorporates two laboratories: the Nuclear Supplies Laboratory (NML) and the Environmental Samples Laboratory (ESL). Each laboratories analyze samples collected by IAEA inspectors within the discipline. The NML, the place she works, analyzes uranium and plutonium samples to confirm nuclear materials declarations, whereas ESL primarily analyzes cotton samples to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear materials.

“Urska helps the work in virtually all the NML laboratories, and she or he assists different analysts within the processing and measurement of samples of nuclear materials,” mentioned Steven Balsley, director of the Bureau of Analytical Safeguards Providers, IAEA. “The NML is a middle of excellence for the processing, chemical therapy and measurement of samples of nuclear materials.”

Initially from the city of Idrija, Slovenia, Repinc studied radiochemistry on the Jozef Stefan Institute (JSI), within the capital Ljubljana. That is the place Repinc started his work on uranium evaluation.

“The best way she undertook her coaching and analysis work early on, we realized that she was a really gifted analytical chemist and decided to get one of the best outcomes,” mentioned Milena Horvat, former senior colleague at Repinc and present head of the environmental sciences division. at JSI.

Following the recommendation of his colleagues in Ljubljana, Repinc traveled to Austria for technical coaching on uranium evaluation on the IAEA earlier than becoming a member of the European Fee’s Joint Analysis Heart in Karlsruhe, Germany, for post-doctoral analysis. Utilizing uranium once more, Repinc investigated the factor’s skill to assist analysis into most cancers remedy remedies.

Nevertheless, working with radioactive isotopes turned extra difficult when Repinc began a household. As a radiologically uncovered employee, well being and security rules require instant reporting of a being pregnant. The reactions of some upset her, seeing the being pregnant as a possible impediment to her profession.

“I consider household is vital. It should not be seen as a drawback to place your profession on maintain for household causes, ”mentioned Repinc. “In science, it’s typically tough to be on the highest degree whereas respecting household commitments.”

To beat this problem, Repinc seemed for a place that allowed him to fulfill each commitments: household and profession. His {qualifications} and expertise have confirmed to be an ideal match for his place on the IAEA. Twelve years after his first go to to the labs, Repinc has returned – this time as a member of the safeguards workforce. As a hardworking and gifted skilled, Repinc has managed to search out the proper chemistry between household and profession.

The Company has established fellowships and coaching applications to extend the participation of ladies and youth in nuclear science. These alternatives embody the Safeguarding Internship and the brand new Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Program which lately awarded scholarships to 100 feminine college students from around the globe. These efforts additionally assist the Company’s dedication to realize gender parity – 50% feminine and 50% male – in any respect ranges {of professional} and better classes by 2025.

Study extra in regards to the IAEA’s concentrate on gender equality.


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