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Ciara Sivels, the First Black Woman to Obtain a Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering

iara Sivels, just 27, is the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan, USA.

The native of Chesapeake, Virginia, won a major victory in the country’s first nuclear engineering program. In October, Sivels successfully presented her thesis on “Developing an Advanced Xenon Detector for Nuclear Explosion Monitoring”, but she was not always passionate about science.

When she graduated from high school, the young woman wanted to study the culinary arts. Only when her teacher encouraged her to try out STEM did she develop an interest in science and nuclear engineering.

Ciara Sivels, the first black woman to obtain a doctorate in nuclear engineering

“I remember that the teacher in this class said,” Oh, you’re really smart, you should think about doing something other than cooking, “said Dr. Ciara Sivels.

“So that’s how I found myself in the nuclear program,” she added.

It was not easy to get his doctorate, but Sivel was supported by mentors such as Sara Pozzi, an academic advisor for her thesis.

Ciara Sivels, the first black woman to obtain a doctorate in nuclear engineering

“This project was initiated by Ciara and represents a significant advance in the monitoring of nuclear explosions”.

She explained that representation was important, especially because of the lack of diversity in science. As the founder of Women in Nuclear Engineering in Radiology on its campus, Sivel believes it is important to expose more black women to the world of STEM.

Ciara Sivels, the first black woman to obtain a doctorate in nuclear engineering

“My two most important things are performance and exposure,” said Sivel. “I feel that my path would have been a lot easier if I had been exposed to things at a different time. I always think that exposure is the key, and representation is also useful because you have people who look like you that can help you get up when you fail. “

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