Padma Raghavan appointed to Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council


Gov. Bill Lee recently took a significant step toward deepening Tennessee’s commitment to nuclear energy by appointing a team of noted professionals to the new Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council. Among them is Vanderbilt University Vice Provost for Research and Innovation Padma Raghavan.

Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan
Padma Raghavan (Vanderbilt University)

The council’s mission is to foster nuclear energy innovation and investment in the state to position Tennessee as a leader in advancing nuclear technology. “Tennessee can lead America’s energy independence and provide continued economic growth with safe, reliable and clean nuclear energy for the future,” Lee said in a release announcing the council.

Raghavan, a distinguished computer scientist who specializes in supercomputing, brings considerable expertise to the council with nearly two decades of experience in leading initiatives to advance research, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth through multi-sector partnerships. She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she serves in prominent advisory roles for the National Science Foundation. She also is a member of the Board of Governors of UT-Battelle, which operates the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 2022, Raghavan was appointed to a two-year term on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.

“Padma Raghavan’s appointment to the Nuclear Energy Advisory Council recognizes her profound expertise and leadership. This is a key step for Tennessee’s future, and we are proud that she is representing Vanderbilt in this endeavor,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said.

Raghavan’s role in the council aligns with Vanderbilt’s efforts to advance economic development, mobility and energy advancements with partners across Tennessee and the region, including I-24 MOTION and the National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines program.

“I am delighted to join this committee as member at large to advance the governor’s vision for safe, clean nuclear energy in Tennessee,” Raghavan said. “The committee’s work is important to ensure the continued growth of the nuclear energy sector statewide and shape the future of U.S. energy independence.

In addition to appointing the Nuclear Energy Advisory Council, Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly established a $50 million Nuclear Fund in the state’s fiscal 2023–24 budget. The fund aims to support nuclear power-related businesses that choose to expand in or relocate to Tennessee.