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MIT researcher heads for Capitol Hill

Ronald Latanision, MIT professor of materials science and engineering and of nuclear engineering, was appointed to a four-year term on the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board by President George W. Bush in June. Congress created the board in 1987 to provide independent technical reviews of the Department of Energy’s decisions regarding the management and disposal of spent commercial nuclear fuel. As director of the H. H. Uhlig Corrosion Laboratory at MIT, Latanision focuses his research on materials processing and the corrosion of metals in aqueous environments, an expertise that will be useful as the board evaluates the packaging of nuclear waste for storage in Yucca Mountain, NV.

Latanision is no stranger to Capitol Hill. He served as a science advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology while on sabbatical in 1982. He was also an education advisor to the late Paul Tsongas during the former senator’s 1992 campaign for president. Scientists, Engineers, and Lawmakers, a freshman seminar Latanision taught last fall, allowed him to share his political enthusiasm with students.

Latanision believes that scientists and engineers must become more directly involved in creating public policy, and he hopes that some of his students may go on to careers in politics. “I make my students promise that if they are elected to public office, they will invite me to their inauguration,” Latanision says.

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