President Obama nominates ASU professor to key nuclear post

President Barack Obama announced his nomination of Kenneth L. Mossman, an Arizona State University professor of health physics and an international expert in radiation health and safety, to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board on July 31.

The board is a small executive branch agency (five members) with safety oversight of all nuclear weapons facilities in the U.S. It acts as an independent agency to identify the nature and consequences of potential threats to public health and safety at the Department of Energy’s defense nuclear facilities, to elevate such issues to the highest levels of authority and to inform the public. It makes recommendations on matters of safety to the Secretary of Energy and to the President.

“I am excited about working with other Presidential appointees on the board and the very talented civil servants who carry out the work of the board,” Mossman said. “I have always had a strong commitment to giving back, particularly to institutions that have contributed to my success. This Presidential appointment is another way of giving back. Other than teaching there is no greater calling than government service in the public interest.”

Mossman has published widely on topics such as biological effects of low and high dose x-, gamma and neutron radiation; radiation exposure during pregnancy; the health effects of radon; and radiation protection and public policy. His current research includes nuclear regulatory science and policy, and managing small risks, as well as risk perception and risk communication.

Mossman has held his current position as professor of health physics at ASU since 1990. He is also an administrative judge for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, where he has served since 2008.  

From 1997 to 2004, Mossman was director of the University Office of Radiation Safety at Arizona State University, and from 1990 to 1992 he served as the University’s assistant vice president for research. Previously, he was a professor at Georgetown University’s Medical Center (1973 to 1990), and he was the founding chairman of the Department of Radiation Science at the Georgetown Graduate School (1982 to 1990).

Mossman received a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University, a master's and doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee and a master's of education from the University of Maryland.

Mossman’s Senate confirmation process is expected to begin this fall.