Charlyne Smith, an impressive 27–year–old American, has made history at the University of Florida in the United States as the first–ever black person to receive a PhD in Nuclear Engineering.
Smith, currently a Senior Nuclear Energy Analyst on the Nuclear Energy Innovation team at the Breakthrough Institute, sees her accomplishment as an opportunity to give more marginalized people access to innovation in this field.
Originally from St. Catherine, Jamaica, North America, Smith moved to the U.S. in 2012 to pursue a science and technology education at Coppin State University in Baltimore, where she graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry and Mathematics.
It was at a Coppin State alumni event that she connected with nuclear scientist Dr Nickie Peters and discovered her interest in Nuclear Engineering and the positive impact it could have around the world. Smith then attended the University of Florida to earn her doctorate and has big plans now that she‘s achieved it.
Her goal is to help displace fossil fuel energy sources in the Caribbean and replace them with clean energy sources – such as nuclear energy – to assist in global carbon neutrality objectives. In addition, Smith is co–founder of a non–profit organization called Empowering Garrison Girls (EGGs) that looks to tackle gender and economic inequality by targeting young girls living in Jamaican garrison communities.
To do this, Smith plans to create a summer engineering pilot program for high school students, as her hope is that this program will become a blueprint for designing STEM–based secondary institutions.