On the verge of a second term, Svinicki attracts great praise but remains an elusive figure
Kristine Svinicki knew just how to warm up hundreds of nuclear physicists, engineers and other experts who had gathered for a nuclear regulatory conference in Maryland earlier this year. She cracked a neutron joke. "A neutron walks into a bar, and the bartender says, 'What'll you have?'" the 45-year-old Nuclear Regulatory Commission member said, her small frame tucked behind a wooden lectern at a hotel in downtown Bethesda, Md. "The neutron says, 'I think I'll have a beer, but how much is it?' and the bartender answers, 'For you, no charge.'" Svinicki's wit doesn't surprise her former colleagues, even if it's seldom seen in public settings.