She grew up in Billings, Montana, got bored studying pre-med, and eventually got recruited in to the Navy Nuclear Program. Now she's considered a "titan of nuclear" who heads up the business development division for General Atomics. Zabrina Johal joined us on the radio to talk about nuclear energy and her rise through the ranks.

Last year, Johal published a guest opinion column for The Hill which focused on how the US is falling behind China and Russia when it comes to nuclear power and the energy industry. Here's an excerpt:

Things have changed since the 1950s. Over the last 20 years, the U.S. has added just one reactor. At best, two more will come online in the 2020s. Meanwhile, seven have shut down since 2013, and another 12 may shut down by 2025. That’s a lot of clean, reliable generation lost from a grid that’s increasingly dependent on intermittent renewables.

Business and jobs are not the only losses when customers turn to Russia, Korea and China. A nuclear plant is a decades-long investment — countries choosing Russian reactors are embarking on relationships that may last 60 to 100 years.

Recently, she was also featured on the "Titans of Nuclear" podcast which talked about her rise through the ranks of the US Navy Nuclear Program and her current role with General Atomics. The full video is below, but here's an excerpt from the transcript:

School hadn’t felt challenging for Zabrina, and she was drawn to the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program because she wanted a challenge. Before getting accepted, Zabrina interviewed with three scientists at Naval Reactors in DC, and after passing those interviews she spoke with Admiral Skip Bowman. During the process, none of the people interviewing her were other women. Zabrina said it was a time honored tradition for the admiral in charge of the nuclear program to interview every officer that was applying into the program. The founder, Admiral Hyman Rickover, knew that one accident could put the entire program at risk. At the end of her interview, Admiral Bowman told her she was accepted into the program.

Here's audio of our full conversation with Zabrina Johal:


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