The Nonproliferation and National Security Department has 67 full-time employees who conduct research for DOE and other government agencies to safeguard nuclear materials and prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the U.S. and throughout the world. These efforts extend to arms control verification and technical support. In addition, the department develops technology for counter-terrorism; critical infrastructure protection, especially advanced detectors and radiological protection; and provides training for others in these areas.
Kessler earned a bachelor’s degree in bio-geology from Brown University in 1975, and she began her career as an oceanographer working at the U.S. Geological Survey and then at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Inspired by a mentor, she left Woods Hole to earn a master’s degree in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While there, she became interested in nuclear nonproliferation and wrote her thesis on international safeguards. After graduating, she became special assistant to the senior specialist for nonproliferation in the Congressional Research Service, U.S. Library of Congress.