Before much of America learned to fear atomic energy, towns like Perry, Ohio, learned to love it. For over thirty years the Perry Nuclear Power Plant has been the linchpin of the small Rust Belt community, bringing flush budgets and well-paying jobs to an area with little other industry. But like many nuclear power plants in the U.S., the Perry plant is aging, costly to maintain, and unable to compete with the nearly two-decade run of record-low natural gas prices. On the isolated shores of Lake Erie, Perry is now caught in a global energy shift. In the coming years, more than two-thirds of the nuclear power plants in America are similarly at risk of shut down, the consequences of which will leave deep voids in the diversity of America’s energy grid and depleted tax bases in the rural towns that house nuclear power plants. Residents and town officials in Perry, however, are not going quietly into the retrenchment of America’s nuclear energy industry.
Growing up in Cleveland, OH, Kelsey Tsipis did not always aspire to be a science writer. She was a child with ardent aspirations, prone to ever-changing interests and great immoderation in her passion. It wasn’t until she took her first science journalism class as an undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill that she recognized that science writing perfectly suited her inquisitive disposition. As an undergrad, Kelsey focused primarily on a wide range of public health topics, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, mental health coverage, and research findings from UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University — winning her the North Carolina Medical Society Scholarship for Medical Journalism. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a specialty in Editing and Graphic Design from UNC Chapel Hill, Kelsey worked as a medical editor for an independent, nonprofit global research institute and served on the executive committee of the American Medical Writers Association Carolinas Chapter. Kelsey is now beyond grateful to continue her passion for science writing at MIT with fellow students and professors whom she admires greatly.
Thesis: Fission and Fury in Perry Ohio: One Town’s Fight to Save Their Nuclear Power Plant