An exceptional 27-year-old American Lady, Charlyne Smith has set an outstanding record at the University of Florida, United States after emerging as first-ever black person to earn a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the institution.
Charlyne Smith who is now a Senior Nuclear Energy Analyst on the Nuclear Energy Innovation team at the Breakthrough Institute described her achievement as a feat that will open doors for marginalized groups.
“It means more options, more open doors for marginalized groups, including Black women and men, to create and innovate in the nuclear energy space to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, including climate change,” Smith said.
Charlyne Smith was originally from St. Catherine, Jamaica, North America. She moved to the United States in 2012 to pursue a career in science and technology.
On getting to the United States, Charlyne Smith proceed to study at the Coppin State University in Baltimore and in 2017, she graduated from the institution with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Mathematics.
According to black enterprise, Charlyne Smith discovered her interest in Nuclear Engineering after speaking with nuclear scientist Dr Nickie Peters at a Coppin State University (CSU) alumni event. She felt pursuing Nuclear Engineering could help bring immediate change to the countries that needed it.
She thereafter proceeded to the University of Florida and finally became the first black woman to earn a PhD from the university. According to Smith, she plans to help displace fossil fuel energy sources in the Caribbean and replace them with clean energy sources like nuclear energy.
“In doing so, we not only solve energy instability, especially during extreme weather events, but we’ll also get closer to global carbon neutrality goals,” she explained.
“My strategy is to start with Jamaica because it houses the only nuclear reactor in the Caribbean. Although it is a research reactor, its existence demonstrates experience and technical competence in the nuclear engineering space,” she added.
Charlyne is a co-founder of a non-profit organization called Empowering Garrison Girls (EGGs) whose mission is to fill the need for a global transformation to reduce gender and economic inequalities by targeting young girls living in Jamaican garrison communities.
“Early exposure to a wide range of STEM disciplines is essential for solving current and future world problems. I plan to help diversify the engineering disciplines by first developing a summer engineering pilot program for high school students in Jamaica. The hope is that the success of these types of educational programs will help to create a blueprint for designing STEM-based secondary institutions,” she explained.