Workforce Recognition - 2020

Acknowledging exceptional performance and expertise

The recognition by the scientific community and other stakeholders affirms the high quality of Livermore’s work and innovative spirit. The awards on these pages showcase the efforts of the Laboratory’s talented staff.

Former DOE Secretary of Energy Rick Perry presented members of LLNL’s 34-member High-Value Component Design and Manufacture Team with Secretary’s Honor award
Former DOE Secretary of Energy Rick Perry presented members of LLNL’s 34-member High-Value Component Design and Manufacture Team with Secretary’s Honor award for “their extraordinary efforts in which they successfully invented advanced materials, manufacturing and metrology technologies that have pushed the boundaries of what is possible.”

DOE and NNSA Award

In honor of more than 40 years of service to the U.S. Air Force, the DOE, and NNSA, former LLNL deputy director Tom Gioconda was awarded the NNSA Administrator’s Gold Medal, the highest recognition bestowed by NNSA. 

LLNL staff were presented six DOE Secretary’s Honor Awards, which are bestowed on teams that have achieved a singular accomplishment that demonstrates high-level performance and dedication to public service. The teams (some multi-laboratory) are: Foreign Nuclear Weapon Analysis Team, High-Value Component Design and Manufacture Team, Summit Sierra Team, Warhead Measurement Campaign, Korea Denuclearization Team, and Pit Production Analysis Team.

Physicist Federica Coppari and microbiologist Erin Nuccio are among the 76 scientists nationwide who were recipients of the DOE Office of Science Early Career Research Program award. Under the program, Laboratory scientists typically receive $500,000 per year research funding for five years.

Five LLNL project teams were recognized with NNSA Defense Programs Awards of Excellence for important contributions to the Stockpile Stewardship Program and strategic deterrence.

Nine LLNL employee teams were honored with Excellence Awards from NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure and Operations (NA-50) for exceptional accomplishments in support of NA-50 efforts to achieve NNSA mission goals.

Professional Society Fellows and Seniors

Kavli Fellow winner Félicie Albert
Kavli Fellow winner Félicie Albert

Physicist Félicie Albert was elected a Kavli Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and presented a poster at the NAS Frontiers of Science (virtual) symposium, the academy’s premier activity for distinguished young scientists. She is the Laboratory’s seventh Kavli Fellow since the program started in 1989.

Four LLNL scientists have been selected as 2020 fellows of the American Physical Society (APS): Richard Berger, Art Nelson, Max Fenstermacher, and Laurent Divol. The new fellows represent a wide range of physics expertise, from laser plasma physics to magnetic fusion plasmas, to theoretical and computational understanding of plasma interactions and soft x-ray and free electron laser platforms.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has selected LLNL scientist Peter Beiersdorfer as a fellow in its inaugural class of this accolade, which recognizes AAS members for achievement and extraordinary service to the field of astronomy and the AAS.

SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, elected LLNL research engineer Richard Leach as a senior member of the organization. SPIE recognizes senior members based on exceptional professional experience, active involvement with the optics community and/or significant performance.

Science and Technology Awards

LLNL atmospheric scientist Ben Santer was honored with the American Geophysical Union’s 2020 Bert Bolin Award. The award is presented annually and recognizes groundbreaking research or leadership in global environmental change through research in the past 10 years.

Audrey Williams, the director of LLNL’s Forensic Science Center, received the 2020 Outstanding Early Career Achievement in Forensic Science Award. This award for demonstrated leadership and outstanding achievement is presented annually by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Past Presidents Council.

LLNL physicist Yuan Shi has earned APS’s Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis award for his work in plasma physics. The award recognizes exceptional young scientists who have performed original thesis work of outstanding scientific quality and achievement in plasma physics.

Livermore physicist Natalie Hell was awarded the 2020 Dissertation Prize from the Laboratory Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society. Hell received the prize for groundbreaking laboratory measurements necessary for accurate, reliable interpretation of x-ray spectra from astronomical sources.

Livermore climate scientist Karl Taylor received the California Air Resources Board’s Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award for 2019. Taylor was commended for his contributions in building essential infrastructure to improve climate modeling and for his own far-reaching research.

Physicist Denise Hinkel was elected vice chair of the APS Division of Plasma Physics (DPP). Hinkel brings deep expertise in plasma physics from her work at LLNL. Her multi-year leadership commitment with APS will culminate with service as APS-DPP chair.

Three scientists from LLNL are recipients of the 2020 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research from the APS. Hye-Sook Park, Steven Ross and Dmitri Ryutov are part of an international team of researchers that was cited for their work generating Weibel-mediated collisionless shocks in the laboratory

LLNL geologist Lars Borg and physicist Megan Bruck Syal were named by the National Academies of Science to a pair of Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey committees tasked to assess the current state of knowledge and to identify the most important scientific questions to be addressed by the year 2032.

Special Honors

A team of current and former LLNL and IBM scientists won the annual “Test of Time” award at the 2020 Supercomputing Conference for a published paper outlining LLNL’s Blue Gene/L, the first in a series of massively parallel supercomputers under IBM’s Blue Gene project. The machine was predicted to vastly outperform the fastest supercomputers that existed at the time.

LLNL was honored with a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, recognizing the Laboratory as one of the top 10 best places to work nationwide in 2020. The award is based on the input of employees.

Workforce magazine named LLNL a General Excellence winner in the 2020 Optimas Awards. General Excellence was awarded to Livermore for demonstrating excellence in at least six of the ten specified categories assessing successful measurable business outcomes.


Professor Andrea Ghez

Honoring the Nobel Prize in Physics Winner

LLNL congratulates Professor Andrea Ghez at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), on her co-award of the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. In the 1990s, Ghez (center) and LLNL scientist Scot Olivier and former LLNL scientists Claire Max (right) and Bruce Macintosh (left) were instrumental in standing up the UC Center for Adaptive Optics. LLNL had a lead role in the development of the instruments and Ghez had a lead role in the use of those instruments at the W.M. Keck Observatory to infer the presence of the supermassive black hole at the galactic center.