Skip to Content
MIT News magazine

Frank Lee "Skip" Bowman, SM '73

Championing a future for nuclear energy

Admiral Skip Bowman places two priorities squarely at the top in his life: spending time with his family and promoting nuclear power as a solution to both global warming and the nation’s energy needs.

Bowman stepped into his current role as president and CEO of the nuclear industry’s policy organization, the Nuclear Energy Institute, in 2005 after a successful 38-year career in the U.S. Navy. During that career, he served as director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program for nearly a decade. At the same time, he was the deputy administrator of naval reactors in the National Nuclear Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In these dual positions, Bowman headed operations of 103 reactors aboard aircraft carriers and submarines, as well as four training sites and two DOE laboratories. When he was a ship commander, Bowman’s crews won many awards, including five “E” Ribbon awards for battle efficiency.

Bowman acknowledges widespread concerns about civilian nuclear power plants, such as the potential for nuclear proliferation and the problem of storing used fuel rods. But he believes that recycling methods now being tested could solve those problems. He says the new techniques would harvest up to 90 percent of the rods’ energy while binding the plutonium waste product to elements that render the plutonium unusable in nuclear weapons.

He is as ardent an advocate for safety as any devoted family man. He married his high-school sweetheart, Linda, in 1966, and they now live in Arlington, VA; their two grown children each have three children. “The family plays a huge role in my life,” says Bowman, who especially likes to swim with his grandkids.

Family life was more stressful when Bowman attended MIT. “I found myself on a rapidly spinning treadmill with two babies at home who cried all night, but only when I had a test the next day,” he recalls. Today he maintains close ties with MIT, serving on the Nuclear Engineering Visiting Committee and counting among his friends several faculty members in nuclear science and engineering.

Bowman is optimistic that the 31 new U.S. nuclear plants now being planned by utility companies will be as safe as the submarine fleets he once commanded. He says, “I feel that what I’m doing now is an extension of what I’ve done for 38 years: helping to ensure the security of the country for my children and their children.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.