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June 2001

The Laboratory
in the News

Commentary by
Lee Younker

Turning Carbon
Directly into

Research in State
and Beyond

This Nitrogen
Molecule Really
Packs Heat

Goes to Work






Pioneering advances in astronomy, environmental remediation, human genomics, and physics critical to stockpile stewardship have earned four Laboratory scientists Edward Teller Fellowships for 2001. The scientists are Claire Max, Elbert Branscomb, John Nitao, and George Kwei.
The fellowships recognize and encourage scientific accomplishments and provide fellows with the flexibility to explore new areas of interest by allowing each recipient to do self-directed work for the Laboratory over the next year. This is the second year the fellowships have been awarded.
Max heads the Laboratory’s Laser Guide Star Project, central to which is adaptive optics systems, which improve the resolution of ground-based astronomical telescopes. She was also instrumental in creating the new Center for Adaptive Optics headquartered at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The Teller fellowship will enable her to devote herself to a program of intensive cutting-edge exploration in adaptive optics and its emerging applications, to continue mentoring young researchers supporting this work, and to define a strong role for Livermore within the Center for Adaptive Optics and related communities.
Branscomb served as director of the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in Walnut Creek, California, from its creation until late 2000. Under his leadership, JGI established its Walnut Creek facilities and achieved international recognition for effectively completing its sequencing goals. Branscomb intends to use the fellowship to further explore genes from chromosome 19—one of the chromosomes the Laboratory had responsibility for mapping. He said that he will focus on a large family of genes involved in controlling the expression of other genes in the genome.
With the help of his Teller fellowship, Nitao intends to collaborate with the renowned hydrologist Jacob Bear on a book about subsurface flow and transport for environmental remediation. It will include information on thermal methods for removing contaminants from soil. Nitao is the driving force behind the NUFT code—a versatile computational tool that incorporates the complex physics of multiphase flow and transport of gas, liquids, and thermal energy through a fractured porous matrix. He recently added realistic chemical reactions to NUFT, further expanding the class of problems to which the code can be applied.
Kwei, a physicist, is a leader in neutron-scattering research relevant to stockpile stewardship. He will use his fellowship to write a book on science policy in the White House that addresses how policy advisers work with the President and Congress to set policy. Kwei says that he wants to explain to the general public what science does for them.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the Laboratory as a “champion of green government.” EPA’s Greening the Government Award recognizes individuals and groups that go “above and beyond the call of duty in working to improve the environment.” The “above and beyond” recognized at Livermore is the recycling of materials from decontamination and demolition projects by the Chemistry and Materials Science Directorate’s Space Action Team (SPA).
Created some six years ago, the 32-member SPA plans and executes facilities projects Laboratory-wide with the goals of improving efficiency and reducing costs by helping to consolidate facilities and programs.
The EPA award citation reads: “The Space Action Team at LLNL has recycled approximately 90 percent of materials from decontamination and demolition projects at the Lab. Soil, asphalt, concrete, wood, steel, and electromechanical infrastructure and equipment have been recycled during the demolition of 11 buildings and 22 trailers. Soil, asphalt, and concrete are now being used at landfill sites for construction, road improvements, and daily operational needs. LLNL has reduced landfill costs for those materials to zero. Pollution prevention is a guiding principle in all decontamination and demolition projects.”

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UCRL-52000-01-6 | July 23, 2001