Feb. 24, 2016
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Lawrence Livermore physicist receives Presidential honor

Breanna Bishop, bishop33 [at] llnl.gov, 925-423-9802

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Tammy Ma has been selected for a 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE), one of 106 recipients nationwide and one of 13 from the Department of Energy. The awardees will be honored in a ceremony later this year.

Ma was recognized for her "innovation and leadership in quantifying hydrodynamic instability mix in the hot spot of inertial confinement fusion (ICF) implosions on the National Ignition Facility (NIF); key contributions to experiments demonstrating fusion fuel gains exceeding unity; and broad educational outreach and service to the scientific community."

"I am incredibly honored to receive this award," Ma said. "My heart is filled with gratitude to all my mentors and advisers who have taught me so much and have continuously advocated for me, and for the amazing colleagues that I am humbled to get to work with everyday. The Lab is an awesome place and I’m proud to be a part of it."

The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the executive office of the president. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Ma earned her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Caltech in 2005, and received her master’s degree in 2008 and Ph.D. in 2010, both from the University of California, San Diego. 

Following graduate school, Ma completed a postdoc at LLNL before becoming a staff scientist in 2012, where she now supports many of the ICF experiments at NIF. Ma was responsible for developing an X-ray imaging diagnostic (the Ross Pair Filters) for the NIF and established a methodology for determining hydrodynamic mix and pressure in NIF implosions. She currently heads the X-Ray Analysis Group for the ICF program, and coordinates the Summer Scholars program for High Energy Density (HED) Physics. Ma has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal publications. Ma also is active in the Laboratory’s community outreach programs, participating in school visits, the annual Expanding Your Horizon programs for girls in grades 6 to 9 and Science on Saturday.

Former LLNL postdoc Jonathan Hopkins also was awarded a PECASE. Hopkins is now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Read the complete White House press release on the Web.