A chance trip to Russia set Regina Galer on a career path to protect the world. Or, as Galer, who works as the Deputy Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of International Nuclear Security, explains unofficially: “From a U.S. security perspective, the effort is to try and prevent the theft or diversion of nuclear materials that could be used to harm U.S. security or our allies—or, really, anyone.”
Galer first went to Russia as part of a People to People high school political science exchange in 1992, the year after the fall of the Soviet Union. “That really set everything in motion,” for her life and career, she says. Yet, she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do when she arrived at SPEA for graduate school years later. She did know that she wanted to serve her nation as a good civil servant and use her interests in environmental science and science writing. Working with her professors and advisors, Galer forged her own course of study, earning a SPEA MPA modeled on Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management, called “environmental policy communication,” and an MA from the School of Journalism that focused on communicating science issues.
“Everyone was so supportive at SPEA,” Galer says. “They really want you to succeed and are there for you.”
And Galer has succeeded. At SPEA, she took part in the annual European Union study abroad course, then led by former Dean Chuck Bonser, and later in a summer exchange with the Tahoe Baikal Institute, an American/Russian nongovernmental organization that supports joint scientific study and research partnerships. After grad school, she taught as an adjunct lecturer for one rewarding semester at the J-School, before starting as a Nonproliferation Graduate Program Fellow with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (detailed into the Department of Energy), where she continues to work to this day.
Her background with Russia, along with her interdisciplinary study at SPEA, all came together to make a career. Now she returns to SPEA to help inform curriculum and the degree programs and serves on the Distinguished Alumni Council.
“Go to the talks, hear from the professionals, really learn how to write,” she advises today’s students. “There’s a whole world out there, and there’s so much we can do.”