About the John S. Foster, Jr. Medal

John Foster Medal

The John S. Foster, Jr. Medal is administered by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS) to commemorate the exceptional and inspirational career of Dr. John S. Foster, Jr. The medal is bestowed annually by the Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) on behalf of LLNS to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in science, technology, and engineering or policy formulation in support of U.S. nuclear security. Medal recipients receive a citation, a gold medal bearing the likeness of John S. Foster, Jr., and a $25,000 cash award.



This medal was established to recognize innovative and inspirational leadership in providing a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent to ensure international peace and strategic stability. Nominees are expected to have displayed the same qualities that have distinguished John S. Foster, Jr. throughout his career: strong national security and programmatic focus, inspiring leadership and team-building mentorship, scientific innovation, and keen judgment and integrity.


The deadline for 2019 nominations has passed.

A nomination package should consist of a letter of nomination (including contact information for three references who may be asked for further input), and a curriculum vitae or biography listing significant accomplishments. The nomination letter should make clear the candidate’s major achievements and the resulting impacts in the context of the assessment criteria.

Assessment Criteria

The John S. Foster, Jr. Medal is given for outstanding contributions and achievements that demonstrate scientific, technical, management, or policy leadership related to enhancing the nation's nuclear deterrent. Such contributions and achievements must have lasting influence, reflecting the attributes of Dr. Foster's many accomplishments and the qualities that distinguish his remarkable career. The nominees will be assessed using the following criteria:

Achievements: Demonstrating innovation and professional excellence in the evolution of nuclear forces and nuclear strategy through advancing science and technology, developing and deploying new capabilities, and formulating nuclear policy. Inspiring leadership and building teams in the national interest: formulating and guiding the direction of nuclear policy; developing and deploying new capabilities to enhance the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nuclear deterrent; and assembling multidisciplinary teams or integrating disparate points of views to forge an effective combination of nuclear forces, arms control and verification measures, and nuclear deterrence policy.

Strong programmatic focus and dedication to national service: Exemplifying dedication with unceasing attention to the most important national security issues by applying new approaches and achieving breakthrough advances in science and technology to address emerging national needs.

Character: Motivated and able to motivate others to do their best: identifying and focusing on difficult problems and emerging threats to the nation; taking on difficult scientific and technical challenges; assembling effective multidisciplinary teams; and inspiring and mentoring others to contribute more than they thought possible.

Keen judgment and rigor: Consistently using a strong technical basis as the starting point for discussions, articulating persuasive arguments based on sound analysis of alternatives and their consequences, and always questioning assumptions and asking what can go wrong.
Grace, honesty, integrity: working constructively with others, promoting teamwork and helping people work to agreement on difficult issues, and generously supporting the aspirations of all.

Merit Review and Selection

The nomination materials will be evaluated by an independent peer review panel to be selected by the LLNL Director. The panel will include members from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s national laboratories and the broader national security community. Worthy candidates will be identified in the peer review, and a selection recommendation will be forwarded to the LLNL Director, who will make the final decision on behalf of LLNS. The medal will be presented at an event with appropriate media coverage.

Past Recipients

The inaugural John S. Foster, Jr. Medal was presented to John S. Foster, Jr. on Sept. 29, 2015 at the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington D.C.

On September 1, 2016, it was announced that Air Force Gen. Larry D. Welch will become the second recipient of the John S. Forster, Jr. Medal. Welch received the award Sept. 26, 2016 at a ceremony at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
On August 8, 2017, it was announced that Victor "Vic" Reis, former Department of Energy's assistant secretary of Defense Programs, will become the third recipient of the John S. Forster, Jr. Medal. Reis received the award November 3, 2017 at a ceremony at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Both previous Foster Medal winners (John S. Foster, Jr. and Larry D. Welch) were in attendance.
On August 8, 2018, it was announced that former LLNL Director John Nuckolls will become the fourth recipient of the John S. Forster, Jr. Medal. Nuckolls received the award November 8, 2018 at a ceremony at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Previous Foster Medal winners John S. Foster, Jr. and Larry D. Welch were in attendance. Nuckolls is best known as the seventh director of the Laboratory, the driving force behind the birth of the laser program at LLNL and as one of the most innovative thermonuclear designers of the atmospheric test era.