Lab researchers recognized for accomplishments in early and mid-career

Sept. 28, 2016

The 2016 recipients of the Early and Mid-Career Recognition include: top row, Jonathan Allen, Tom Arsenlis, Reg Beer, Celine Bonfils, Nerine Cherepy; middle row, Eric Duoss, Tom Guilderson, Kelley Herndon Ford, Crystal Jaing, Vince Lordi; bottom row, Pierre Michel, Lisa Poyneer, Steven Ross, Eric Schwegler and Tayyab Suratwala. (Download Image)

Lab researchers recognized for accomplishments in early and mid-career

Anne M Stark,, 925-422-9799

Fifteen Lab scientists and engineers have been named to LLNL's second annual Early and Mid-Career Recognition (EMCR) Program.

Director Bill Goldstein recently notified the researchers of their selection as recipients of the Laboratory’s FY2017 EMCR Program.

“Recognizing and encouraging early and mid-career technical staff is a key element in our strategy for retaining talent,” Goldstein said. “This program rewards employees at this stage in their careers who are exceptionally accomplished and show potential for future leadership.”

The EMCR Program recognizes scientific and technical accomplishments, leadership and future promise demonstrated by LLNL scientists and engineers early in their careers -- from five to 20 years since they received their most recent degree. Winners receive a cash award and institutional funding (approximately equivalent to 20 percent support for one year) to pursue research activities in their area of interest.

This year’s recipients will be honored at a reception on Oct. 10.

The FY16 EMCR winners are:

Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen’s work has led to scientific achievements recognized by the broader science community. He has led three projects and was a key contributor to a fourth project including genetic engineering detection, metagenomics and influenza mutation, among others. His work analyzing the pandemic potential of H1N1 influenza was recognized with an S&T Excellence in Publication award.

“I am grateful for the selection and it makes me feel extremely fortunate to work with so many talented people at the Lab, which has led to many productive collaborations,” Allen said.

Tom Arsenlis
Tom Arsenlis has had a widely recognized impact on LLNL programmatic missions through the development of the dislocation dynamics code ParaDiS and related multiscale material strength models suitable for use in hydrocodes, and has formed the basis for a CRADA with the U.S. Army for armor simulations. Since 2012, he has led the High Energy Density (HED) Integrated Materials Experiment Project -- an ambitious weapons physics project to develop several experimental platforms at NIF that probe the properties of materials in HED regimes.

“The Laboratory is a great team science environment, and I have to thank all of the people that I have had the pleasure to work with during my 16 years at the Laboratory for helping to make this happen,” he said.

Arsenlis plans to use the award to begin building a next-generation simulation tool capable of running on exascale computers to predict the strength of complex metals and alloys by integrating the interactions among the fundamental defects of polycrystalline materials.

Reg Beer
Reg Beer has been a prolific developer of programs and technology in the area of RF detection applications. He is considered an expert in improvised explosive device (IED) detection and has developed autonomous IED detection systems. In addition, he is considered an expert in microfluidics and biosensing, and is internationally known for his contributions to Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Beer plans to continue his research in distributed networks and sensors and machine learning.

“I feel honored to receive this award,” Beer said. “It’s a creative idea to spark some new research at the Lab.”

Celine Bonfils
Celine Bonfils has sustained an exceptionally high publication performance for many years on the detection and attribution of climate change. She has published 39 peer-reviewed journal articles (12 as first author), one book chapter and two external reports. This impact has been recognized with a DOE Early Career Research Project Award ($2.5 million over 5 years), five LLNL awards and many invited talks.

“I am honored to have been selected as an awardee,” Bonfils said. “I feel extremely fortunate to study an important problem such as the nature and causes of climate change here at LLNL, and to have received (and continue to receive) the best guidance from my mentors during the development of my career."

Bonfils plans to use the award to focus on climate-driven impacts that are directly related to the human system. “With this award, I am hoping to go in that direction and develop collaborations and research pathways that I otherwise would not have time to explore," she said.

Nerine Cherepy
Nerine Cherepy’s work on scintillators has attracted a great deal of interest and emulation around the world. The first new gamma detecting scintillator she discovered was an overnight success. Her second scintillator, known as “Garnet,” is fabricated via transparent ceramics processing and is first of its kind. Her efforts were central to the recent renaissance of organic and plastic scintillators. Many of her materials have been incorporated into breakthrough devices for which she led the engineering team. She has more than 100 publications in print and 15 issued patents.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition for my role in bringing new light-emitting materials to fruition, including single crystals, transparent ceramics and plastics, for various uses in ionizing radiation detection, new imaging screens and lighting phosphors,” Cherepy said. “I am grateful that LLNL supports and encourages the type of strong teamwork needed to discover, develop and then implement these diverse new materials into devices and transition them to our industrial partners.”

Eric Duoss
Eric Duoss is a highly innovative leader in the field of advanced materials and manufacturing science. He has a noteworthy impact on mission deliverables through his research on direct-ink-writing of polymer components, using novel synthesis, simulation tools and experimental data. His direct-ink write manufacturing technique has stimulated creative ideas by LLNL design physicists, beginning the exploration of new ways to more effectively support the stockpile into the future. His work on Optimized 3D Micro-Architectures for Energy Storage has gathered considerable attention for high power density 3D micro-batteries. His technology innovations have resulted in five patents and 16 patent applications.

“I am certain that I would not have been selected for this award without the support of such an extraordinary and multidisciplinary team that I am privileged to work with every day at LLNL” Duoss said. “I continue to grow and learn as a scientist and engineer as a result of the many fruitful interactions with my LLNL colleagues and external collaborators, and I owe a lot to all of them. In addition, I am very excited to pursue a novel research project because of this award."

Tom Guilderson
Tom Guilderson’s research focuses on understanding the uptake and redistribution of carbon in the ocean and in the terrestrial biosphere. He has applied his expertise in accelerator mass spectrometry and isotope ratio quantitation methods to a broad range of topics in carbon cycle and climate research, foraminifera and coral ecology, paleoceanography, geochronology, marine geology and archaeology. He is author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal publications. He also is a DOE E.O. Lawrence award winner in Biological and Environmental Sciences and was honored for groundbreaking radiocarbon measurements of corals, advancements in understanding the paleo-history of ocean currents and ocean processes revealing past climate variability, and the explanation of how physical and biogeochemical oceanic processes affect the global carbon cycle.

“I will be using the EMCR award to explore a new model diagnostic in coupled climate models, focusing on the ocean side of the problem,” he said. “If the diagnostic is successful it should help in decadal predictability as well as provide a better diagnostic for the uptake and redistribution of heat and carbon by the ocean.”

Kelley Herndon Ford
Kelley Herndon Ford’s expertise focuses on applying machine learning and data mining algorithms to real-world problems, such as cybersecurity, radiation detection and entity disambiguation. She excels in taking a research idea from inception to design/implementation through deployment and customer support. She has demonstrated excellent technical leadership and has proven ability to interact with technical customers and sponsors. She is the deputy project leader and team lead for SEQUOIA, a cybersecurity research project in Global Security's Information Operations and Analytics Program, as well as an associate division leader for Global Security’s Computing Applications Division.

“I am tremendously honored to receive this award,” she said. “I am currently exploring some options for how to make the most of my time and do something meaningful that will benefit the Laboratory.”

Herndon Ford plans to collaborate with an existing project outside her current domain on a data science research and development effort for Global Security.

Crystal Jaing
Crystal Jaing has established herself as an expert in pathogen detection from complex biological samples. Some examples of her work are the microbiome in the environment of the International Space Station; analysis of pathogens in wounds that could lead to better treatment strategies; and helping pharmaceutical companies such as Merck to evaluate effective next-generation technologies to detect contaminants in vaccines. In addition, she has built a large number of worldwide collaborations applying and advancing the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) technology, which is able to detect any known virus or bacteria within 24 hours, much faster and cheaper than DNA sequencing. This array was recently used to confirm a viral contaminant from childhood vaccines, detect plague from the Black Death human remains in 1348 and detect viruses that are associated with bladder cancer. She also has been instrumental in helping LLNL establish a CRADA with Affymetrix to commercialize LLMDA on a high-throughput microarray platform, which is expected to be available on the market later this year.

“LLNL has provided me with excellent opportunities to work with multidisciplinary teams and develop technologies to make our country safer,” she said. “We have used the LLMDA to solve many problems, from identifying contaminants in childhood vaccines, determining pathogens that cause infection in wounded warriors, diagnosing new virus outbreaks, identifying pathogens that make sea lions sick, characterizing pathogens in remains from Black Death, to providing surveillance of emerging pig diseases that impact our agricultural economy.”

Vince Lordi
Vince Lordi is an expert in ab-initio materials simulation, working on materials for high-energy radiation detectors, thin-film solar cells, lithium ion batteries, superconducting and ion trap qubits, earth abundant magnets, advanced nuclear fuels and high-fluence optical filters. Through coupled theory and experiment, he improved AlSb radiation detector material. Within two years, he improved detector-grade material properties an order of magnitude. He also has made breakthroughs in thin-film solar efficiency by designing improved buffer layer materials. This work has led to a recent patent filing jointly with industrial partner MiaSolé Hi-Tech. Lordi helped explain the fundamental mechanism enabling pulse-shape discrimination in organic crystal scintillators, which had long-lasting impact for LLNL developments of high-performance organic crystal and plastic scintillator radiation detectors. The resulting devices have gone on to win numerous awards, including an R&D100.

“I’m honored to be selected for this award and excited to have the opportunity as an early-mid career scientist to devote a portion of my time to pursuing new research interests,” he said. “I will be using the award money to start up a new project, which hopefully will lead to expanded opportunities and collaborations in the future.”

Pierre Michel
Pierre Michel’s expertise focuses on laser-plasma interactions. He developed the physics basis for the cross-beam energy transfer used routinely in NIF ignition experiments for symmetry control. He and several of his colleagues were awarded the Excellence in Plasma Physics APS award for this work. He has written many papers on laser beam interactions in plasmas, which give insight and direction to critical problems in indirect drive ICF, such as hot electron preheat, symmetry control, stimulated Brillouin and Raman backscatter. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

“Receiving this award makes me realize once more how grateful I am to my colleagues and my management for making our work environment so stimulating and enriching,” he said. “The award might allow me to explore a new project that is quite different from my usual scope of work and would provide a challenging though extremely rewarding experience.”

Lisa Poyneer
Lisa Poyneer focuses on new techniques for high-performance astronomical adaptive optics (AO). She developed specific new approaches that became key enabling technologies for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). GPI has proved to be an extremely powerful instrument, with its earliest discoveries featured in Science (2015) and Scientific American (2015). The AO capabilities she developed also are of great interest in national security. Space surveillance and directed energy weapons will need AO solutions. She has continued her AO work in the field of X-ray optics and has produced the longest and "flatest" deformable X-ray optic in the world.

“I’m very excited to have this opportunity,” she said. ”I will be working on advanced adaptive optics algorithms for both astronomy and X-ray light sources.”

Steven Ross
Steven Ross has made significant contributions to the understanding of underdense plasma conditions using Thomson scattering. He has completed a number of experiments at the Omega laser facility looking at both low-Z and high-Z plasma conditions, as well as the physics that drive temperature and density evolution. He also has been instrumental in the development of the NIF Optical Thomson scattering diagnostic, which will be fielded on NIF later this year.

“It was a very pleasant surprise to be selected as an EMCR recipient, especially given the large number of smart and talented people I work with here at the Lab,” he said. ”I’m excited to be able to spend time studying fundamental plasma physics processes at temperatures that rival those found at the center of the sun.”

Eric Schwegler
Eric Schwegler focuses on the use of first-principles simulation methods to predict and understand the properties of a wide range of systems, including semiconductor-water interfaces, metallic alloys, liquids and solids under high pressure and temperature, nano-confined fluids and the aqueous solvation of ions and small bio-molecules. His most heavily cited work has involved first-principles simulations of water under both ambient and high-pressure conditions. In particular, his detailed study of the accuracies that can be achieved with a first-principles simulations approach resulted in a complete reassessment by the general research community as to how these types of simulations should be carried out. For example, his prediction of a maximum in the melting curve of hydrogen, which was widely covered in the popular press and featured on the cover of Nature, led to an intense effort by experimentalists to confirm this finding. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

“I am very happy to receive this award, it means a great deal to me,” he said. “I am planning to use my award to explore different approaches for facilitating the sharing of data between multidisciplinary teams of researchers.”

Tayyab Suratwala
Tayyab Suratwala has made significant scientific contributions in the fields of optical fabrication and fracture of advanced glasses, resulting in more than 70 peer-reviewed journals and proceeding articles, four patent applications and two R&D 100 awards. In particular, he has worked on glass grinding and polishing, sub-surface damage measurement and formation, fracture behavior in glasses, fractography, slow crack growth, glass chemistry, sol-gel chemistry, glass melting and optical properties of glass. He has spoken and given tutorial seminars at more than seven companies in the optical fabrication industry, which is an example of the level of domestic and international recognition for his research. He also developed a novel chemical treatment to increase laser damage resistance of optics (AMP); processes to prevent thermal and chemically induced fracture in potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KDP) crystals; and more recently, novel convergent polishing techniques to make high-quality optics faster and cheaper. Several of these process improvements have been considered by NIF as critical enabling technologies for the success of laser operations.

“LLNL is filled with exceptional talent accomplishing amazing science and delivering novel technologies for our missions; I am truly honored to be part of this institution and to be recognized,” Suratwala said.