Webster participated in the 2022 NEREC Summer Fellows Program

S. Owen Webster was selected as one of the 2022 Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center (NEREC) Summer Fellows and spent five weeks at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea. The Center’s goal is to foster global initiatives towards the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Reflecting on this experience, Owen writes –

When I spent a year in Beijing on a Boren Scholarship in 2018, I was so set on finding the time and money to take a short trip to South Korea somehow. As the majority of my classmates in the intensive Mandarin program were from there, we often casually talked about the many places I should visit if ever I got the chance. Forming those quick friendships broadened my world and further piqued my interest in a place and culture that would otherwise seem far away.

The NEREC Summer Fellows Program allowed me the opportunity to learn alongside students from across the world and dive into substantial policy questions relevant to my research work. It was an opportunity to visit nuclear facilities and learn from experts in a region where nuclear weapons are an uncomfortably salient part of daily life. As an American, I feel a unique responsibility to learn about the historical ripples of our so-called “forgotten war,” one in which the US nearly used its nuclear monopoly on the peninsula and in China. Further, it allowed me to better understand how I can contribute to the end to a conflict that has never formally ended since its start in 1950. It allowed me to examine what could be done to bring North Korea back into compliance with international safeguards and produce the conditions for both denuclearization and reunification.


Owen is from Winston Salem NC and completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (2021) & Economics (2020) and a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages & Literatures – Asian Language Concentration (2020) degrees at NC State University before starting his PhD in Nuclear Engineering and proceeding to candidacy. His faculty adviser is Dr. Ge Yang, associate professor of nuclear engineering.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center (NEREC) of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is currently the sole university organization for nuclear nonproliferation research and training. Since 2014, KAIST NEREC has been run as a think tank undertaking education and research to foster international nuclear nonproliferation conducive to peaceful use of nuclear technology. NEREC executive director, Dr. Man Sung Yim, is the director of the Nuclear & Quantum Engineering Department at KAIST and Associate Vice President for the International Office of KAIST. He is also a former professor and director of graduate programs at NC State Nuclear Engineering.