Advisory Panel

Thomas Cochran, Protect Our Power

Dr. Thomas Cochran

Former Senior Scientist for Nuclear Policy, NRDC

Dr. Thomas B. Cochran was a senior scientist in the nuclear program and held the Wade Greene Chair for Nuclear Policy at NRDC until he retired in 2016. He served as director of the nuclear program until 2007. He initiated NRDC’s Nuclear Weapons Databook project. He also initiated a series of joint nuclear weapons verification projects with the Soviet Academy of Sciences. These include the Nuclear Test Ban Verification Project, which demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing seismic monitoring to verify a low-threshold test ban, and the Black Sea Experiment, which examined the utility of passive radiation detectors for verifying limits on sea-launched cruise missiles. He has served as a consultant to numerous government and non-government agencies on energy, nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear reactor matters. He is a member of the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee.

Previously Dr. Cochran served as a member of DOE’s Environmental Management Advisory Board, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Board, and Energy Advisory Board; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on the Cleanup of Three Mile Island; and the TMI Public Health Advisory Board. Dr. Cochran is the author of The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor: An Environmental and Economic Critique (Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future, 1974) and coeditor/author of the Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume I: U.S. Nuclear Forces and Capabilities (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ballinger Press, 1984); Volume II: U.S. Nuclear Warhead Production (1987); Volume III: U.S. Nuclear Warhead Facility Profiles (1987); Volume IV: Soviet Nuclear Weapons (1989); and Making the Russian Bomb: From Stalin to Yeltsin (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995).

In addition, he has published numerous articles and working papers, including those in SIPRI Yearbook chapters, Arms Control Today, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He has coauthored (with Dr. Robert S. Norris) the article “Nuclear Weapons” in the 1990 printing of The New Encyclopedia Britannica (15th edition). Dr. Cochran received his Ph.D. in physics from Vanderbilt University in 1967. He was assistant professor of physics at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, from 1967 to 1969; modeling and simulation group supervisor of the Litton Mellonics Division, Scientific Support Laboratory, Fort Ord, California, from 1969 to 1971; and, from 1971 to 1973, a senior research associate at Resources for the Future. Dr. Cochran has been with NRDC since 1973. He is the recipient of the American Physical Society’s Szilard Award and the Federation of American Scientists’ Public Service Award, both in 1987. As a consequence of his work, NRDC received the 1989 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Cochran is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the AAAS.