For more than 60 years, Lawrence Livermore employees have applied science and technology to make the nation—and the world—a safer place. Our employees’ skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm are essential to continued success in meeting formidable challenges in national security, international threat reduction, stability, energy technology and climate change, and human progress.
The numerous awards, honors, and publications attributed to Livermore employees are indicative of their quality, dedication, and innovative spirit. For example, the 10 Livermore scientists selected as fellows of the American Physical Society in 2015 are evidence of the Laboratory’s capability and influence.
As Laboratory Director, one of my most important duties is to ensure that we continually revitalize the skills needed to fulfill our mission responsibilities through concerted efforts to attract and develop an exceptional staff. Accordingly, we have instituted a number of programs to prepare younger researchers to take on leadership roles filled by experienced staff approaching retirement age.
A new addition to this effort, launched in 2015, is the Early- and Mid-Career Recognition Program, which is designed to help younger researchers enrich their careers and receive the full recognition they deserve. As detailed in the feature article, A Salute to Promising Technical Staff, this program honors up to 15 scientists and engineers annually for their significant technical accomplishments and leadership potential. The recipients receive a cash award and funding to pursue a research interest outside their demanding programmatic assignments, which are too often all-consuming.
The call for nominations last year yielded 99 outstanding nominees who were evaluated based on the quality of their technical contributions, the influence of their work, and their leadership abilities. The committee that evaluated the nominations, composed of distinguished members of the technical staff, reported that choosing the first class was a daunting challenge because of the quality of the pool. Based on that feedback, 2015 nominees who were not chosen, but are still eligible, will be automatically considered in the next round.
Feedback from the first class of recipients indicated that they were genuinely surprised, appreciative, and honored. In my view, they represent well the extraordinarily wide range of research programs pursued at Livermore as well as the very highest standards of research and development. They also continue to garner recognition. For example, plasma physicist Félicie Albert recently won a Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Research Program award.
Outstanding young researchers continue to be drawn to Lawrence Livermore by the opportunity to work at state-of-the-art research facilities on exciting projects with colleagues who are leaders in their respective fields. However, we face a unique challenge in keeping the best and the brightest because of the stiff competition for talent in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our competitors include many strong and innovative companies in Silicon Valley, as well as major universities such as Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley. Nevertheless, the Laboratory was recently named to the 2016 Forbes list of America’s Best Large Employers, with a ranking of 102 out of 500 top employers across the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we placed in the top 10.
A committee composed of distinguished members of the technical staff is currently reviewing this year’s nominees to select the class of 2016 Early- and Mid-Career Recognition Program recipients. With programs such as this, we will continue to recognize, reward, and retain the outstanding scientists and engineers needed to fulfill our broad national security mission.