United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

John E. Kelly

Dr. John E. Kelly was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Reactor Technologies in the Office of Nuclear Energy in October 2010.  His office is responsible for The Department of Energy (DOE) civilian nuclear reactor research and development portfolio, which includes DOE’s programs on Small Modular Reactors, Light Water Reactor sustainability, and Generation IV reactors.  His office also is responsible for the design, development, and production of radioisotope power systems, principally for NASA missions.  In the international arena, Dr. Kelly chairs the Generation IV International Forum and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Standing Advisory Group on Nuclear Energy.

Prior to joining the Department of Energy, Dr. Kelly spent 30 years at Sandia National Laboratories where he was engaged in a broad spectrum of research programs in nuclear reactor safety, advanced nuclear energy technology, and national security.  In the reactor safety field, he led efforts to establish the scientific basis for assessing the risks of nuclear power plant operation and specifically those risks associated with potential severe accident scenarios.  His research focused on core melt progression phenomena and this led to an improved understanding of the Three Mile Island accident.  More recently, his expertise in severe accidents was applied to determine the consequences of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident.  In the advanced nuclear energy technology field, he led Sandia’s efforts to develop advanced concepts for space nuclear power, Generation IV reactors, and proliferation-resistant and safe fuel cycles.  These research activities explored new technologies aimed at improving the safety and affordability of nuclear power.  In the national security field, he led national efforts to evaluate the safety and technical viability of tritium production technologies. 

Dr. Kelly is an active member of the American Nuclear Society and has served on the Nuclear Installations Safety Division in a number of leadership positions. 

Dr. Kelly received his B.S. in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan in 1976 and his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 23, 2014