Former Lawrence Livermore Director John Nuckolls, who for more than 60 years has dedicated his career to advancing science and technology in support of national security, became the fourth recipient of the John S. Foster Jr. Medal. Established by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, and bestowed on an annual basis by the director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the medal recognizes an individual for exceptional leadership in scientific, technical, and engineering development and policy formulation in support of U.S. nuclear security.
Nuckolls joined the Laboratory in 1955 as an aspiring young physicist from Columbia University. Fourteen years later, he received the E.O. Lawrence Award for his contributions to the development of high-efficiency thermonuclear explosives. During that same period, he explored novel methods for thermonuclear ignition, and following the invention of the laser in 1960, he pursued the possibility of using high-power lasers to achieve that goal. In 1983, Nuckolls was selected as associate director for Physics. In that role, he helped establish Lawrence Livermore as a state-of-the-art research institution as well as an outstanding nuclear laboratory. In 1988, he became the seventh director of the Laboratory, leading the institution through one of its most difficult periods as the Cold War gradually ended, nuclear testing ceased, and major reductions were made in the nuclear weapons budget. He began transitioning the nuclear weapons program from one that included full-scale nuclear testing to one that relied on laboratory experiments, enhanced simulation, and scientific understanding.
Since stepping down as director in 1994, Nuckolls has been involved with many advisory boards in defense, energy, and applied science. He has also received awards from the secretaries of the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, adding to his earlier Lawrence Award, Edward Teller Medal, and James Clerk Maxwell Prize.
Camille Bilodeau, a Lawrence Fellow and graduate student at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, won a Best in Biotechnology award from the American Chemical Society at its March 2018 national meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, for her talk on how small molecules interact with proteins. Bilodeau, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in chemical engineering and is supported by a fellowship from the Laboratory’s High Performance Computing Innovation Center and Advanced Simulation and Computing Program, later that year won first place in the poster competition at the 31st International Symposium on Preparative and Process Chromatography in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Best Young Investigator Poster Award at the Gordon Research Conference on Water and Aqueous Solutions in Holderness, New Hampshire. The two most recent awards were for her work designing multimodal chromatographic resins for separation of biological products and using classical molecular dynamics simulations to look at small molecule–protein interactions, which have applications in vaccines and drug design.