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Jamie Coble: Nuclear Safety Expert, Outdoor Enthusiast, Vegan

Coble rides a dinosaur last year at Discover the Dinosaurs at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Coble rides a dinosaur last year at Discover the Dinosaurs at the Knoxville Convention Center.

At UT: An assistant professor of nuclear engineering, Jamie Coble came to UT as a faculty member in 2013 after working at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Coble has earned several honors and serves on prestigious organizations such as the American Nuclear Society for her work helping to improve the safety, reliability, and performance of nuclear reactors. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from UT where she was in the Chancellor’s Honors Program. She was also valedictorian of Science Hill High School in her native Johnson City, Tennessee.

Why she chose this field: Some families have a business that goes back generations.  For Coble, power is the family business. Her dad worked for TVA helping produce hydroelectricity, giving her early exposure to the power industry.

“I grew up in a TVA family, and several of my friends’ parents worked in peripheral industries,” said Coble. “While nuclear energy and hydroelectric power are obviously different, they share a lot of the same challenges.”

Making nuclear energy more economically competitive while meeting the stricter safety standards is among the industry’s biggest challenges. Her expertise allows her to work on both issues.

“By improving operations and maintenance of facilities we can reduce costs while still meeting regulations,” she said.

Outside interests: As an outdoors enthusiast, Coble enjoys hiking and rock climbing and says the rigorous activity is a great way to alleviate stress.

Favorite book or movie: True to her craft, Coble primarily reads technical books. However, she has recently read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Cujo. Having read the latter, she jokes that she will likely never live with a Saint Bernard.

Favorite food: A vegan, Coble also has a love of ethnic foods. Tops on her dining out list are local Ethiopian and Middle Eastern restaurants.

One last thing: Once when enjoying the great outdoors, her family once got a little too close to nature.

“We often camped out near rivers and lakes,” said Coble. “One time, we camped near Boone Dam and didn’t realize they were raising the water level until we woke up in the middle of the night to our campsite flooding.”

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