Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

Honoring exceptional contributions to the development, use, or control of nuclear energy

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"For it goes without saying that this great recognition at this time will aid tremendously our efforts to find the necessarily large funds for the next voyage of exploration farther into the depths of the atom."- Ernest Lawrence
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Honoring nuclear scientists and engineers

This DOE award honors scientists and engineers for exceptional contributions to the development, use, or control of nuclear energy (broadly defined to include the science and technology of nuclear, atomic, molecular, and particle interactions and effects).

E. O. Lawrence was the inventor of the cyclotron, an accelerator of subatomic particles, and a 1939 Nobel Laureate in physics for that achievement. The Radiation Laboratory he developed at Berkeley during the 1930s ushered in the era of "big science," in which experiments were no longer done by an individual researcher and a few assistants on the table-top of an academic lab but by large, multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers in entire buildings full of sophisticated equipment and huge scientific machines. During World War II, Lawrence and his accelerators contributed to the Manhattan Project, and he later played a leading role in establishing the U.S. system of national laboratories, two of which (Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore) now bear his name.

Learn more at the Office of Science's E.O. Lawrence award page.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has had over 35 E.O. Lawrence award recipients since 1961:

2020
  • Dana M. Dattelbaum

    National Security and Nonproliferation - Honored for “several transformative scientific and intellectual achievements, including her pioneering work providing physical insights into shock and detonation physics, her innovations in the development of the Equations of State of a spectrum of energetics and polymers, and providing critical data for hydrodynamic simulations essential to the nuclear weapons program.” Dattelbaum has played a pivotal and leading role in advancing the experimental study of materials under extreme conditions at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

2014
  • Eric E. Dors

    National Security and Nonproliferation - For technical leadership and systems engineering integration of next generation satellite-based nuclear explosion sensing and detection systems, and for its impact to the nonproliferation mission.

  • Christopher L. Fryer

    Fusion and Plasma Science - For seminal advances in theory and modeling answering fundamental questions in astrophysics, for achievement in computational multiphysics, and for contributions impacting high-energy density science.

2013
  • John L. Sarrao

    Condensed Matter and Materials Sciences - For the discovery and study of new materials, especially those based on Plutonium, advancing understanding of unconventional magnetic and superconducting states in strongly correlated f-electron condensed matter systems.

2011
  • Mark B. Chadwick

    National Security and Nonproliferation - For innovative scientific contributions to advance understanding of fission product yields and other key nuclear reactions resulting in the resolution of longstanding problem in national security.

  • David E. Chavez

    Atomic, Molecular, and Chemical Sciences - For discovery of new chemical synthetic schemes used to advance development of fundamentally novel, highly energetic, environmentally friendly (high nitrogen) molecular materials important to national security missions.

2006
  • Malcolm Andrews

    National Security and Nonproliferation - For pioneering contributions in the area of fluid instabilities and turbulent mixing, with expertise spanning the realms of theory, numerical simulation, and experiment.

  • My Hang V. Huynh

    Chemistry - For her seminal contributions in the design of new materials using coordination chemistry, including green primary explosives that contain no lead, no mercury, and no perchlorate. For the creation of a new class of polyazido compounds with no carbon-carbon bonds that transcend the carbon-carbon bond paradigm and can be used to prepare novel ultra-pure nanomaterials, such as carbon nanospheres and high-nitrogen carbon nitrides.

2004
  • Bette Korber

    Life Sciences - For her studies delineating the genetic characteristics of the HIV virus and for her development of the Los Alamos HIV database, a foundation for HIV research for the scientific community.

  • Fred N. Mortensen

    National Security - For his contributions to nuclear weapons design and his expertise that has helped certify the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons in an era without nuclear testing.

  • Gregory Swift

    Environmental Science and Technology - For developing the theory of thermoacoustic heat engines and for designing and building these engines and refrigerators that use the power of sound to operate at high efficiency with no moving parts.

1994
  • Gregory J. Kubas

    Chemistry - For his landmark discovery of molecular hydrogen complexes of transition metals and for his pioneering research on their chemical and physical properties. His research has revolutionized the way scientists think about how the-chemical bond in hydrogen and similar chemical bonds interact with metals. This interaction is the basis of many large-scale industrial processes; and the ability to store hydrogen as metal hydrides improves hydrogen's prospects for use as an energy source.

1993
  • Alan Bishop

    Materials Research - For imaginative contributions to the development and application of nonlinear concepts and techniques to a broad range of problems in materials science.

  • Robert K. Moyzis

    Life Sciences - For distinguished contributions to the field of molecular genetics, including the elucidation of the sequence and structure of centomeres and telomeres of human chromosomes. His findings point to the existence of a new type of DNA code that is 'structural' in nature and is shared by the DNA of many other organisms.

  • John Shaner

    National Security - For innovative experiments on the basic properties of condensed matter important to weapons physics, for the development of the simulated explosion scaling technique important to verification of the current Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty, and for contributions to establishing exchanges with the former Soviet Union's weapon laboratories.

1991
  • Zachary Fisk

    Materials Research - For the discovery and synthesis of new and novel magnetic and super-conducting materials and pioneering research on their properties.

  • Rulon Linford

    Nuclear Technology - For his outstanding scientific contributions and personal leadership in the development of magnetic confinement for fusion power applications.

1988
  • Gene H. McCall

    National Security - For his pioneering work in the field of laser-driven inertial fusion and its application to nuclear weapon design and diagnostics, for his early, independent work on laser-plasma interactions and the role of electron heating, and for his work on hypervelocity particles and shockless acceleration to enable development of a new class of directed energy weapons.

1987
  • James W. Gordon

    National Security - For his outstanding innovations in the design and development of nuclear weapons with tailored effects and for his broad achievements in nuclear weapon effects and vu

1986
  • James L. Smith

    Materials Research - For establishing the fundamental significance of heavy fermion metals and their unusual electronic and magnetic properties, through path-breaking experiments and the discovery of new materials.

1985
  • Thomas A. Weaver

    National Security - For his exceptional contributions to national security in the physics, design and leadership of x-ray laser experiments, which include work in atomic physics, radiate transfer and hydrodynamics, material science, and the development of complex diagnostics. These major accomplishments follow from earlier research in astrophysics with emphasis on stellar evolution.

1984
  • Siegfried S. Hecker

    Materials Research - For his contributions to diverse fields of materials science including important contributions to the physical metallurgy and mechanical properties of plutonium metal and its alloys, as well as outstanding experimental contributions to the understanding of plasticity at large strain and high strain rates including instabilities due to texture development in metals.

1983
  • James F. Jackson

    Nuclear Technology - For outstanding contributions to the safety of nuclear reactors, including pioneering work on the transition phase of positron fast breeder reactors and the development of physical and mechanistic means of analyzing safety of both fast reactors and light water reactors.

1982
  • Mitchell J. Feigenbum

    Physics - For his discovery of the period-doubling route-to-chaos, which has furthered the understanding of a wide variety of nonlinear physical phenomena in fields as diverse as turbulence, solid state physics, plasma physics, chemical kinetics, and population biology.

1980
  • Donald W. Barr

    National Security - For innovative and incisive diagnostic methods, which continue to enlighten weapons designers and which dominate interpretive understanding and subsequent improved designs.

  • Benno Schoenborn

    Life Sciences - For the innovative development and creative application of neutron scattering and diffraction techniques to the analysis of macromolecular structure and biological organization and function.

1976
  • Kaye D. Lathrop

    Reactors - For outstanding contributions to nuclear reactor theory in the development of techniques and computer codes for solving the neutron transport equation.

1972
  • Charles C. Cremer

    Weapons - For his contributions to the development of weapons design codes, his achievements in the design of small weapons, and for his imaginative and skillful leadership in the development of novel small weapon design concepts.

1969
  • Don T. Cromer

    Chemistry & Metallurgy - For his outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structures of many intermetallic compounds of plutonium and other transuranic elements of great importance to the reactor and weapons programs.

  • F. Newton Hayes

    Life Sciences - In recognition of his fundamental contributions to the development of scintillation counting which have been essential to the advancement of radiobiology and radiochemistry.

1967
  • Robert N. Thorn

    Weapons - For his eminent role in initiating and conducting theoretical studies of thermonuclear weapon design, for his outstanding performance in adapting results of theoretical studies to practical device designs, and for his investigations of the effects and particular requirements of our defensive nuclear weapons.

1966
  • Harold M. Agnew

    Weapons - For his highly significant contributions of the development of nuclear weapons and for his outstanding success in working with the Armed Services to assure the maximum safety and effectiveness of atomic weapons systems.

  • Ernest C. Anderson

    Life Sciences - For outstanding contributions of nuclear medicine, to biological research, to archeological dating, and for the development of liquid scintillation counting which make possible early neutrino experiments and the liquid scintillator whole body counter.

1965
  • George A. Cowan

    Weapons - For notable accomplishments and leadership in the application of radiochemistry to weapon diagnostics and for the measurement of fundamental physical quantities using nuclear explosions as neutron sources.

1963
  • Louis Rosen

    Weapons - For the development of new experimental techniques and their application to a better understanding of the nucleus as well as to the diagnosis of weapon behavior.

  • James Taub

    Chemistry & Metallurgy - For contributions to the metallurgy of uranium and other special nuclear materials including the development of ingenious methods for fabricating materials into special shapes with tight dimensional tolerances.

1961
  • Conrad L. Longmire

    Weapons - For continued and original theoretical contributions, requiring unusual insight, to the development of nuclear weapons and the progress of plasma physics.