NE Seminar: “Advice on ‘Atypical’ Career Trajectories”


1:55 pm-2:55 pm
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Christopher L. Cahill, Ph.D.

Christopher Cahill was born in Huntington, NY and grew up on an apple orchard in nearby Fort Salonga. His education includes a BS in Geochemistry from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia (1993) and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from SUNY-Stony Brook (1999). He joined the faculty of GW in 2000 after a one-year post-doctoral position in the Environmental Mineralogy group at the University of Notre Dame. He is an expert in solid-state and materials chemistry with a particular emphasis on X-ray crystallography. His synthesis expertise includes high-temperature techniques, as well as hydrothermal systems to produce novel hybrid materials of relevance to the nuclear fuel cycle. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers in a range of areas related to the synthesis and structural characterization of materials and minerals. Current research areas include exploring the behavior of uranium and transuranic species under environmentally relevant conditions, as well as the synthesis of lanthanide-containing sensor materials. Chris is the first physical scientist at GW to hold a joint appointment in the Elliott School of International Affairs, where he develops and delivers technical curricula targeting non-technical nuclear policy professionals. He is a recipient of the prestigious NSF CAREER Award (2004), a Bender Teaching Award (2005), a Fulbright Scholarship (2008) and the Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching (2013) and the Graduate Mentorship Award from the Vice President for Research at GW (2021). He is a past President of the American Crystallographic Association (2014-2016), a member of the Cosmos Club and has held visiting researcher positions at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Argonne National Laboratory. More recently, he spent a sabbatical (2015-2016) as the American Institute of Physics State Department Science Fellow at the US State Department’s Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism on the Nuclear Forensics Team. Chris served as Acting Director of the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy at GW from January to June 2018 and is currently the Chair of the Chemistry Department.

This presentation will describe the career trajectory and evolution of interests of an academic, Ph.D. chemist as he explored an ‘alternative’ career path in the government. Prof. Cahill took a sabbatical from his faculty position at The George Washington University and, through the American Institute of Physics’ State Department Science Fellowship, spent a year in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation’s Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction-Terrorism. This experience provided him with some keen insight for those wishing to explore careers in the government, federal agencies, or other forums at the intersection of science and technology policy. As such, he will present a brief overview of his path to the position, his experiences therein, and hopefully, foster an open discussion regarding opportunities and suggestions for engagement.


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UF Materials Science & Engineering Dept.