CGSR creates York fellowship in honor of its first director

March 8, 2002

CGSR creates York fellowship in honor of its first director

A postdoctoral fellowship program named for the Laboratory’s first director, Herbert York, is now accepting applications.

Herbert York Postdoctoral Fellows will work in the Lab’s Center for Global Security Research (CGSR), which brings together experts from the science and technology and policy communities to explore innovative ways in which science and technology can enhance national security.

"It is very fitting that the creation of this fellowship celebrating the career of Herb York coincides with the laboratory’s 50th anniversary," said Eileen Vergino, deputy director of CGSR. "The fellowship honors the work Herb has done throughout his distinguished career in both science and policy. He worked tirelessly in his effort to link science and policy as demonstrated by his strong leadership in arms control."

The fellowship program seeks candidates with recent doctorates in science and engineering. Fellows will focus their studies on the interface between technology and policy and be expected to provide new insights into difficult national security challenges.

"There’s an under-representation of scientists in science policy jobs in Washington D.C.," said Laura Gilliom, head of LLNL University Relations Program. "It’s important to forge links between science and policy. It’s a natural for us to do. The York fellowship complements our other postdoc programs."

Creation of the fellowship program was a partnership between CGSR and the University Relations Program with strong support from the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration and the University of California.

York Fellows will be mentored by a senior CGSR staff member. In the pursuit of their studies, fellows will also be expected to work with people from industry, academia, government and national and international security organizations. Areas of particular interest to CGSR include; reducing threats from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; security implications of emerging technologies, and the role of science and technology in national security, from arms control and peacekeeping to homeland defense and warfare.

The program will select a first fellow this summer for a one year fellowship, renewable for a second year.

Herb York served as Laboratory director from 1952 until 1958 at which time he left Livermore to serve as the first director of the Defense Department’s Office of Defense Research and Engineering. York also served as Chancellor of UC San Diego, as a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee and as a member of several arms control and test-ban treaty delegations. Later he became director of the Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation and continues to serve as a professor and director emeritus of the institute.

"I’m tickled pink," York said about the fellowship. "It’s an honor. I hope this fellowship brings people who can really contribute. I have every confidence they will and I look forward to meeting the first fellow."

York said he became involved in science policy issues by "following my lifeline." After working on the Manhattan Project, he and others in the scientific community "focused on what it all meant."

As Lab director he made frequent trips to Washington to "talk about what we were doing at the Laboratory." Back then he said fewer people were involved in science and science policy questions. "That gave us more influence simply because there were fewer of us."

From the president to cabinet secretaries, "in the immediate post-sputnik era, we were being sought after by the people who knew they needed advice. It’s really important to have technical and science people involved in policy."

The nation is currently facing some important policy questions including national missile defense and "what kind of nuclear program we need given the changes in the world," York said. "The parameters of the cyurrent policy discussion is are narrow. Too few people are thinking about the big picture issues."

International and domestic terrorism have raised important science policy issues about "what government can do and what national labs can contribute," York said. "The world has changed and a bigger question is how should science R&D be changed both programmatically and organizationally.

"There’s the general question of support for science. At what level should government support science?" he asked. "If there’s a single issue, it is how to bring the system up to date."
Former Lab Director Mike May, a close friend of York’s, said it’s very appropriate that a CGSR fellowship be named for Herb York. "For 50 years, Herb York has been a great builder and contributor not just to science at the Laboratory, but to the whole enterprise of science helping government.

"He’s a great guy. He has been a pioneer in many things," May said. "Not only was he the first director of the Laboratory, but the first director of DOD’s Office of Research and Engineering and the first chancellor of UC San Diego.
"Herb has always been very positive, sensible and receptive to new ideas. He’s broad in his interests," he said, noting not only York’s long standing interest in arms control and policy issues but the fact he speaks Spanish and learned Chinese later in life.

Despite his recent illness, York has been "steadily cheerful," May said. "He’s inspiring to be around."