Krell Institute honors Ma with Corones Award

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The Krell Institute has awarded LLNL physicist Tammy Ma with its 2023 James Corones Award Leadership, Community Building and Communication.

The Krell Institute, a nonprofit organization serving the scientific and educational communities, has awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Tammy Ma with its 2023 James Corones Award Leadership, Community Building and Communication.

The award, named for the institute’s founder, recognizes mid-career scientists and engineers who are making an impact on their chosen fields and for mentoring young people to be active in the science community and communicate their work. Ma is the lead for the Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) Initiative and program element leader for High-Intensity Laser High Energy Density (HED) Science – Advanced Photon Technologies.

“This award means a lot because it comes through the Krell Institute, a longtime partner of NNSA and the Lab, and it honors James Corones and the tenets of leadership, community building and science communication that he so embodied,” said Ma. “I’m very honored and will work hard to continue living up to those ideals.”

A committee of Krell friends and employees chose Ma, who also is Livermore’s associate program leader for HED Laboratory Plasmas, citing her outstanding contributions to and leadership of the fusion energy science community.

“We’re delighted to recognize Tammy Ma, an architect of the growing fusion energy sciences community and a communicator with demonstrated skills in connecting with lay audiences,” Krell Institute President Shelly Olsan said. “Few mid-career researchers have a comparably strong record in all the areas Jim Corones prized.”

Vincent Tang, principal deputy associate director of the NIF and Photon Science Directorate, noted Ma’s technical excellence, scientific leadership and outreach and incredible track record of service to the field and community.

“I believe her community leadership and service as well as her advocacy have been instrumental in helping to establish IFE as one of the paths forward this decade for fusion energy,” he said.

Since earning her aerospace engineering Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, in 2010, Ma has helped advance fusion, the process that powers the sun and stars, for scientific research. Her work has supported inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF). On Dec. 5, 2022, LLNL achieved ignition on NIF, producing more energy from the implosion than the laser energy used to drive it.

In her present position, Ma heads a group that works with universities and other institutions to advance the use of the world’s highest-intensity lasers for research into matter, astrophysics, fusion and other subjects. With the IFE Initiative, she helps guide foundational fusion energy studies at Livermore and in the wider community to support DOE’s drive to commercialize fusion energy.

Ma has helped build the HED and fusion communities, including establishing the IFE Virtual Collaboratory to encourage connections between private and public fusion programs. Among her many other activities, she serves on the DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) Advisory Committee, and in 2020 helped author a long-range plan for U.S. efforts in this area. She recently chaired for FES the IFE basic research needs study, which will inform the national IFE strategy.

Ma is an active communicator, providing congressional and executive branch briefs and testimony, appearing regularly in popular media, volunteering at science fairs and speaking to groups that encourage women to participate in science. She made numerous appearances to communicate the importance of fusion and LLNL's ignition achievement, including with CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes, and can be found in multiple YouTube videos.

Ma won a 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering and a 2018 Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Research Award.

The Krell Institute supports technology-based education and information programs with technical assistance, management expertise and communications products, and collaborates with agencies and institutions to foster the nation’s competitive advantage in science and engineering. The Krell Institute also manages the DOE CSGF program, as well as the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship and Laboratory Residency Graduate Fellowship programs. Jeff Hittinger, another LLNL researcher, also received the Corones award in 2021.