Myrisha Lewis ’11 first began studying issues relating to national security and nuclear power two years ago as a researcher for the International Court of Environmental Arbitration and Conciliation in Spain. In recent months, her expertise has become increasingly relevant after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan resulted in the failure of several nuclear reactors.
“[What happened in] Japan was obviously [the result of] an awful natural disaster, but its lessons remain relevant for all of these other reactors,” says Lewis, who will begin working in the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as part of the organization’s prestigious Honor Law Graduate Program this August. “We’ll get to see the deficiencies of the Japanese plants and have something new to learn from it.”
While nuclear regulatory policy continues to be a headline-grabbing topic, it is but the latest in a bevy of complicated legal matters Lewis studied while at Columbia Law School. Last summer, Lewis worked in the antitrust division of the California Attorney General’s Office, and, this past spring, she focused on intellectual property rights and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a legal affairs intern at EMI Music. “It was an amazing environment,” she recalls. “Copyright law still applies to these industries, but it is just so much harder to enforce. I like new challenges, so developments in the industry will be very interesting to watch.”
While Lewis does not rule out pursuing a career in another legal field one day, she is currently focused on her future at the NRC, the leading regulator of nuclear power plants. “Nuclear power does face some challenges, to say the least,” Lewis notes, “not only domestically, where we will have to decide what to do with our fuel—but also internationally, where security is so important.”