Lab's ACT-UP awards focus on collaborative research

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Gaia Righi, Ph.D. candidate from UC San Diego, works on a project titled “Dynamic Strength of Iron Under Phase Changing Conditions.” Righi and faculty adviser Marc Meyers work with Hye-Sook Park and Rob Rudd from LLNL. The team was awarded an ACT-UP award last year.

With a focus on increasing joint research efforts between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and universities, the Lab’s Weapon Physics and Design (WPD) Academic Collaboration Team (ACT) University Program has awarded this year’s ACT-UP awards.

Now in its second year, the ACT-UP awards were created to encourage and advance strategic partnerships among universities with a focus on the Lab’s mission. The awards emphasize key outcomes including innovation and basic science to establish long-term relations on target topics with target universities; products comprising of data, methods and technology where the Lab taps into university relations to respond with agility to WPD Program challenges.

The ACT-UP awards also serve as a pipeline to promote education, recruiting and hiring to build on the Lab’s university relationships for a workforce with cultivated skills, knowledge and abilities.

“The ACT-UP awards help advance the Lab’s Weapon Physics and Design missions by engaging university researchers,” said Rose Mccallen, chair of the ACT. “We have had tremendous success in attracting some of the best researchers from various universities to collaborate with the Lab.”

Led by McCallen, the team established a one-stop-shop for university collaborations, with a focused administrator and a committee of 11 representatives from WPD, the Weapons Simulation and Computing Program, the High-Energy-Density Physics Summer Program, the High Energy Density Science Center and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stewardship Science Academic Programs. The LLNL ACT-UP committee includes Teresa Bailey, Daniel Casey, Perry Chodash, Dana Goto, Frank Graziani, Brian Maddox, Rob Neely, Luc Peterson, Scott Sepke and Joe Wasem. Mccallen serves as chair and Kim Rivera as administrator.

This year’s awards

This year, five awards were distributed to five universities for a total of nearly $500,000 per year for three years. This year’s recipients, project title and LLNL and university principal investigators are as follows:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    Advanced Experimental Capability to Study High-Velocity Collisions of Metallic Microparticles
    Alison Saunders, LLNL principal investigator
    Chris Schuh, MIT principal investigator

  • Stanford University
    Determining Exact RANS Operators With the Macroscopic Forcing Method
    Brandon Morgan, LLNL principal investigator
    Ali Mani, Stanford principal investigator

  • New Mexico Tech (NMT)
    Quantitative Optical Measurement of Shock Interactions Around High-Velocity Projectiles 

    Alejandro Campos, LLNL principal investigator
    Michael Hargather, NMT principal investigator

  • University of Alberta
    Diagnosis of ICF Hohlraum Plasmas Using Advance Thomson Scattering Techniques 

    George Swadling, LLNL principal investigator
    Wojciech Rozmus, Alberta principal investigator

Last year’s awards

Four universities received the ACT-UP Awards last year, totaling nearly $400,000 per year for three years. Last year’s recipients, project title, LLNL and university investigators and students are as follows:

  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
    Investigation of Controlling the Nonlinear Optics of Plasmas Through Advances in Laser and Plasma Capabilities

    Denise Hinkel, LLNL principal investigator
    Warren Mori, UCLA principal investigator
    Sarah Chase, UCLA Ph.D. candidate

  • Stanford University
    Investigation of Underlying Physics of Shock-Shock and Shock-Surface Interactions
    Kambiz Salari, LLNL principal investigator
    Juan Alonso, Stanford principal investigator
    Walter Maier, Stanford Ph.D. candidate

  • University of Notre Dame
    Non-LTE Physics in Integrated Calculations Using Machine Learning

    Kelli Humbird, LLNL principal investigator
    Ryan McClarren, Notre Dame principal investigator
    Michael VanderWal, Notre Dame Ph.D. candidate


  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
    Dynamic Strength of Iron Under Phase Changing Conditions 

    Hye-Sook Park, LLNL principal investigator
    Marc Meyers, UCSD principal investigator
    Gaia Righi, UCSD Ph.D. candidate