LIVERMORE, Calif. — Two physicists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are winners of the E. O. Lawrence Award for their outstanding contributions in the field of atomic energy. Bruce Goodwin, a physicist and associate director in the Defense and Nuclear Technologies Directorate, was named for his work in the national security category, and Ben Santer, a physicist in the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, was honored for his work in the environmental science and technology category.
Goodwin and Santer are two of seven winners. Each winner will receive a gold medal, a citation and $25,000. The award is given for outstanding contributions in the field of atomic energy, which has influenced many fields of science such as environmental research, materials science and nuclear medicine.
“We are all enriched by the contributions these researchers have made ranging from understanding the genetic code to measuring the expansion of the universe itself,” Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said.The award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of the late Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron and is the namesake for the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories.
Awardees are chosen for their work in one of seven categories: chemistry, national security, nuclear technology, physics, life sciences, materials research — which was first awarded in 1984 — and environmental science and technology — first awarded in 1993.
The awards will be presented in a ceremony Oct. 28 in Washington D.C.
Santer, the first Lawrence awardee to be honored for research in climate modeling, is cited for “his seminal and continuing contributions to our understanding of the effects of human activities and natural phenomena on the Earth’s climate system.”
“The award was a big shock. I think I have an opportunity now to tell it straight the way I see it,” Santer said, referring to his research that indicates that human activities have had an effect on climate and the Earth’s warming trend. “It also gives me the opportunity to inform the Department of Energy and the Administration about what we’re doing in this field here at the Lab.”
Santer said he views the award as an opportunity to raise public awareness about the issues surrounding global warming.
“We can’t be a lone ranger on this issue,” he said. “This is a global issue requiring truly global solutions. I think that this Lab has a role to play in developing these solutions.”
Goodwin is cited for his theory work in creating equations of state for plutonium under extreme pressures. Specifically, his work “provided the crucial insight to design and implement fundamental experiments on the properties of plutonium that enabled the resolution of anomalous results from underground nuclear tests.” Goodwin’s work is essential in the nation’s ability to address stockpile stewardship, reliance in the nation’s aging nuclear weapons, and their refurbishment without further nuclear testing.
“Basically what I did was write some equations of state for plutonium under extreme conditions derived from peculiarities I saw in nuclear test data. They looked kind of goofy at the time, but now it looks like they are right experimentally,” Goodwin said. “This is a real honor to be given an award named after one of the greats in atomic research.”
Goodwin and Santer are the latest additions to a list of 22 former Livermore winners of the Lawrence Award since it was first awarded in 1960. In its first year, fourth Livermore director John Foster earned the award for his work in national security. Other Livermore winners include former directors Herb York in 1962 for his research in nuclear reactors, John Nuckolls in 1969for his work in national security, and Michael May in 1970 for his work in national security. Most recently, Charles Alcock won the award in 1996 for his research in physics.
Other Lawrence winners this year include C. Jeffrey Brinker of Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico for his work in the materials research category; Claire Fraser of The Institute for Genomic Research for her work in the life sciences category; Keith Hodgson of Stanford University and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center for his work in the chemistry category; Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for his work in the physics category; and Paul Turinsky of North Carolina State University for his work in the nuclear technology category.
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
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