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Over 100 Female Students Awarded Scholarships under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme

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Xiaoluo Wang, a fellow under the IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme, graduated with a master’s degree in nuclear engineering last year and is getting her first-hand work experience at the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle an Waste Technology. This year’s 110 recipients of the Fellowship award have just been selected by the IAEA. (Photo: A. Tarhi/IAEA)

A group of 110 female students from around the world have been selected to receive scholarships under the IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme (MSCFP).

Launched in 2020 by Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, the Fellowship offers young women an opportunity to pursue studies towards a master’s in the nuclear field by providing financial support and practical experience. The aim of the initiative is to help close the gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated nuclear sector, where women make up less than a quarter of the workforce globally, according to data from the World Nuclear Association.

July Reyes Zacarias, a nuclear engineering student from the Dominican Republic and one of the students selected this year, said that “the fellowship is helping me become the nuclear engineer that I want to be in order to develop a nuclear power option in my country. It shows women all over the world that pursuing a nuclear-related career is possible.”

The students come from 77 countries – six more than last year. Almost three quarters come from developing countries.

Hilma Niitembu Naimbale, a master’s student from Namibia and new fellow, said, “The Fellowship Programme is playing a big role in my future, giving me the opportunity to study nuclear law in Germany with no financial worries. It makes me feel like my future is taken care of through my education.”

The majority of the new students – 51 per cent – have decided to study in Europe. At the same time, 10 per cent have decided to pursue their studies in Africa (twice as many as last year) and 18 per cent in Asia.

The fields of study pursued by this year’s students span many nuclear disciplines, from nuclear energy, nuclear science and applications, nuclear safety, security, non-proliferation and – for the likes of Niitembu Naimbale – nuclear law.

The Programme provides financial support towards tuition and living costs for a master’s programme and then arranges for up to a year of internship for the graduates to gain practical experience. Fellows will be placed as interns at the IAEA or with partner organizations or industry players, in line with their area of study and interest.

“As a graduate in nuclear engineering, this internship is allowing me to start a career as a young professional in the nuclear field,” said Xiaoluo Wang, a 2021 fellow from China, who is currently an intern at the IAEA. “Through the internship component, I am gaining hands-on experience in the fields I am passionate about, such as decommissioning and innovative technologies, and I am expanding my professional network.”

Twenty-five countries and companies have contributed a total of €7.8 million to the fellowship so far. These include the governments of Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Union, along with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, East China University of Science and Technology, the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory, German multinational Siemens, as well as URENCO, a supplier of enrichment services and fuel cycle products for the civil nuclear industry.

The next application period is expected to open this summer.

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