Sama Bilbao y León joined the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in January 2011. As one of the key individuals involved in the creation of the Dominion-sponsored Master in Nuclear Engineering offered by VCU from the fall of 2007, she is thrilled to have returned to VCU as Director of Nuclear Engineering Programs and Associate Professor.
Until December 2010, Bilbao y León was the Technical Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Water Cooled Reactors Technology Development Unit and she was in charge of all IAEA activities in support of the development and near term deployment of advanced water cooled reactors and their associated fuels. Until March 2008, she was a Nuclear Safety Analysis Engineer at Dominion Generation, where she was in charge of the development of a new methodology for the thermal-hydraulic analysis of nuclear cores. Previously, Bilbao y León was a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Madison where she conducted research on experimental and computational thermal-hydraulics and nuclear safety. She also participated in the design of nuclear micro-batteries to power nano-devices. In addition, she has substantial expertise in Energy and Environmental Policy and has participated as an observer in the 5th, 6th and 11th UN sponsored Conferences of the Parties on Climate Change.
Bilbao y León is one of the founders of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA YGN), and served as Public Information Chair since its creation in 1999 until May 2005. She is also an active member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) since 1995, both nationally and locally (Wisconsin, Virginia and Austria local sections). Her dedication to spreading the good news about nuclear earned her the ANS 2002 Public Communications Award. In 2007 she received the NA-YGN Founder Award, the highest award given to an NA-YGN member, which rewards leadership, vision and dedication. In 2007, and again in 2010, Bilbao y León was elected to the national Board of Directors of the American Nuclear Society. In 2016, Bilbao y Léon was named chair of the Virginia Nuclear Engineering Consortium.
Bilbao y León holds a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree in Energy Technologies from the Polytechnic University of Madrid; a master's degree and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin Madison; and an MBA from Averett University.