Lyons brings to the job not only a heavy dose of scientific expertise—he holds a doctorate in nuclear astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology—but also a broad range of experience in government. Lyons served from 2005 to 2009 as a commissioner on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the independent agency tasked with regulating the nation's nuclear-power plants. Lyons, 70, also advised then-Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and before that spent more than a decade working on nuclear-test diagnostics at the federal Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Since he has assumed the role of assistant secretary for nuclear energy in April 2011, Lyons has pursued two main objectives: ensuring nuclear power remains a key part of Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy plan, and moving the administration and Congress forward on finding solutions to storing radioactive waste. On this latter task, Lyons says the findings of the blue-ribbon commission from Obama's first term will help Washington. "This is a tremendous opportunity that's certainly different from the previous four years," Lyons said. "We didn't have an administration strategy." Lyons, who is from Nevada and earned undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Arizona, has a diverse hobby list. "It involves scuba diving or hiking or photography or playing with my grandchildren," he said.