Ten scientists named Distinguished Members of Technical Staff

Feb. 21, 2012

From left: Dmitry Ryutov, John Castor, Jim Candy, Tom Slezak, Omar Hurricane, Jim Hammer, Bruce Remington, Nino Landen, Ken Moody, Neil Joeck (Download Image)

Ten scientists named Distinguished Members of Technical Staff

Ten Laboratory researchers have been named Distinguished Members of Technical Staff (DMTS) for their extraordinary scientific and technical contributions to the Laboratory and its missions as acknowledged by their professional peers and the larger community.

Jim Candy of the Engineering Directorate, John Castor of the Weapons and Complex Integration Principal Directorate, Jim Hammer of WCI, Omar Hurricane of WCI, Neil Joeck of the Global Security Principal Directorate, Nino Landen of the NIF and Photon Science Principal Directorate, Ken Moody of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, Bruce Remington of NIF, Dmitri Ryutov of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate and Tom Slezak of Global Security have earned the DMTS designation by reaching the highest technical staff level achievable by a scientist or engineer at the Lab.

The DMTS classification was created to serve as a career ladder for LLNL scientists and engineers within the Science & Engineering (S&E) classification structure. It appropriately recognizes outstanding S&T excellence with distinction and compensation while allowing the honored recipients to remain focused on delivering science and engineering solutions to critical mission areas of the Laboratory.

Jim Candy

Jim Candy has more than 36 years at the Laboratory in signal and image processing, which has made fundamental impacts inside and outside the Laboratory where he has been called one of LLNL's "natural resources." His work is a critical element in a wide range of Lab projects and disciplines. Candy's work at LLNL has spanned a broad variety of technical areas, programs and work-for-others projects -- bringing national and international recognition to himself and the Laboratory with his novel signal and imaging processing research and development.

"I was quite overwhelmed by such an honor and to be selected to such a highly esteemed group of scientists," Candy said. "I also thought how lucky I was to be able to work on such important and challenging national security problems with teams of world class experts on virtually any problem that was thrown at us -- part of the beauty of the national laboratories."

John Castor

In his 30 years at the Laboratory, John Castor has made a name for himself inside and outside the weapons labs. His initial theoretical work in astrophysics on the theory of stellar pulsation led him to the study of non-local thermodynamics equilibrium processes in stellar atmospheres. His work on the theory of radiatively-driven stellar wind -- the astrophysical work for which he is best known -- allowed him to draw up a paper in 1975 that is widely considered one of the most influential papers in astrophysics of the 1970s and 1980s, with more than 1,000 citations.

Castor joined the Laboratory in 1981 and he linked up with the secondary design physics division where he has been ever since. His efforts went from radiation transport techniques and applications in astrophysics to physical databases for the simulation codes to other studies such as the dynamics of missile flight. Recently, he has advised the NIF Ignition Campaign on material property questions.

"It has been an exciting thirty years, and it feels pleasant indeed to have my work rewarded with the advancement to DMTS status," Castor said. "The other DMTSs are good friends for whom I have the highest respect, and I hope I am worthy to be in their company."

Jim Hammer

Jim Hammer has been a physicist at the Laboratory since 1979, starting in the magnetic fusion area, then joining the Inertial Confinement Fusion Program in the early 1990s and continuing into A Program. He is recognized for the invention and demonstration of new fusion and high energy density concepts as well as groundbreaking science.

Initially working on the Lab's spheromak experiment, he went on to come up with the idea that led to what is now known as "fast Ignition." He also has worked on pulsed-power driven fast z-pinches and the energy balance issue in the weapons program -- he identified a previously unrecognized physical effect that plays a dominant role.

"I feel very honored, especially since there are so many excellent scientists at the Lab deserving of recognition," Hammer said. "It's been a great place to work throughout the years and I am still very excited to be contributing to ongoing projects."

Omar Hurricane

Omar Hurricane's impact on the important core LLNL mission of Stockpile Stewardship has been well recognized as transformative. He has established himself as a leading authority in secondary design physics as well as high energy density plasma physics.

In 2009, he won the E.O. Lawrence Award for national security and nonproliferation, one of the highlights of his 18-year LLNL career. He won the award for providing the dominant solution to a 60-year-old problem in weapons design that is euphemistically called "energy balance." The implication is that underground nuclear tests will no longer be required to establish this empirical parameter and the design uncertainty associated with this phenomenon has been significantly reduced.

"I already felt very lucky to be at this institution where I have access to amazing scientific tools and resources and am able to work on important projects with the incredibly talented science and engineering staff," Hurricane said. "It's a great feeling to receive the DMTS honor and be ranked in the company of such esteemed and accomplished colleagues."

Neil Joeck

Neil Joeck, a 25-year Lab veteran in Z Division and the Center for Global Security Research, has conducted career-long work on weapons of mass destruction in South Asia, a subject in which he is recognized as a world expert in the academic community, the U.S. government national security community and South Asia political circles.

Joeck's seminal work in 1995 and 1998 at Z Division, in 2001-2 at the State Department, in 2005 at the National Security Council, and in 2010 as National Intelligence Officer for South Asia provided unique insights, which drove senior U.S. government officials to formulate and implement policies that helped to reduce the nuclear and terrorist threat in South Asia.

"I am personally proud to have been selected for the DMTS, but see it as a tribute to social scientists at LLNL," Joeck said. "They have contributed enormously over the years, especially within Z Division."

Nino Landen

Twenty-eight year Lab veteran Nino Landen has made outstanding experimental and analytical contributions to inertial fusion and high-energy density plasma physics. He has demonstrated sustained innovation in X-ray based plasma experimental techniques and analysis.

Landen's key areas of research have included: short-pulse laser plasma interaction; radiation transport experiments; and ignition tuning as part of the National Ignition Campaign.

"I'm very honored to receive this recognition, which would not have happened without the combination of excellent experimental and target fabrication capabilities and people that turned ideas into advances in experimental techniques and physics understanding," Landen said.

Ken Moody

Ken Moody, a 26-year Laboratory veteran, joined the Heavy Element Group in 1985 and has been a critical member of the team to discover six new elements - 113, 114, 115, 116, 117 and 118. In addition, he has added more than 40 new isotopes to the chart of nuclides.

Trained under Glenn Seaborg, Moody has dedicated his career to the scientific advancement of radio- and nuclear chemistry for the scientific and programmatic communities. In addition, Moody is one of the creators of the discipline of nuclear forensics, and applications of radiochemistry to national security and law enforcement problems.

Always modest about his achievements, Moody said the DMTS is "certainly an honor."

Bruce Remington

Bruce Remington joined the Lab as a physics postdoc in 1986 and two years later he joined the laser program (now NIF) and has been there ever since. His achievements span three major areas of high energy density physics.

He performed seminal experiments in inertial confinement fusion; led the creation and development of the High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics (HEDLA) project through scientific achievements and the mobilization of an international community; and pioneered the use of lasers to achieve ultra-high pressure, ultra-high strain rate (deformation) conditions in solid materials, also known as Material Dynamics at Extreme Pressure and Strain Rate (MDEPS).

"I am honored to be in such good company with my esteemed colleagues," Remington said. "We all have worked on and off together over the years. I find it deeply gratifying to be in such good company. It brings out the best in us as scientists. They're also all very good friends."

Dmitri Ryutov

Dmitri Ryutov officially joined the Lab in 1994 but has closely collaborated with Lab physicists since the 1980s. He is recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions to fusion science and plasma physics research. During his decades-long research career in the United States and the former Soviet Union, he has made seminal contributions to magnetically confined fusion, space and astrophysical plasmas and other applications of plasma physics and general physics.

Ryutov's broad knowledge of general physics, combined with his talent for doing analytic calculations that are both relevant to and important for a given subject has allowed him to identify and solve important problems in areas well outside of plasma physics.

"I am humbled by this sign of recognition," Ryutov said. "The Lab is a great place to work because it offers a tremendous spectrum of research programs to which one can contribute. There also is the possibility to suggest ideas that can be tested at unique facilities (like NIF), which plays an inspirational role, and the opportunity to closely collaborate with world-class experts."

Tom Slezak

Though Tom Slezak came to LLNL as a summer student in 1974 working part-time during the school year and full time during the summer, he joined the Lab as a full-time computer scientist in 1978, working for what was then called the Bio-Med Program.

He eventually went on to work on the Human Genome Project, pioneering the use of what came to be called "bioinformatics" in DNA physical mapping, and was part of the team that built the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek. In 1999, he was tasked to build a pathogen bioinformatics team that went on to build the BASIS system to provide wide-area monitoring for bioterrorism. His team also worked to create the nation's BioWatch system in early 2003.

"I am extremely well aware that my personal contributions are completely inter-meshed, and shadowed by, the contributions of my colleagues," Slezak said. "I am honored and humbled to be recognized by my peers. I am especially grateful for the generations of programmatic and Computation management who have allowed me to craft a novel career path as the field of bioinformatics was being born, and who supported my involvement. I am not aware of any other environment that would have permitted me to evolve the fascinating career that I have been fortunate enough to stumble into."

Only a limited number of scientists and engineers are selected for recognition at the DMTS level. Following the practices of other laboratories and industry, it is expected that the population of DMTS will never grow to more than roughly 3 percent to 5 percent of the eligible pool of scientists and engineers.