Ribbon medal

Program Accomplishments

LDRD-funded research explores the frontiers of science and technology in emerging mission spaces, with projects guided by an extremely creative, talented team of scientists and engineers.

Featured Research

LDRD funded 250 projects in fiscal year 2022. Brief summaries of each project are included in Project Highlights. Here, we provide a closer look at a handful of projects that underscore the exciting, innovative research in this year’s LDRD portfolio.


LDRD-funded research explores the frontiers of science and technology in emerging mission spaces, with projects guided by an extremely creative, talented team of scientists and engineers.


Scientific Leadership and Service

LDRD projects are distinguished by their mission-driven creativity. LDRD-funded research often launches stellar careers, initiates strategic collaborations, produces game-changing technical capabilities, and even lays the foundation for entirely new fields of science. It is no surprise that every year, LDRD principal investigators from LLNL are recognized for the groundbreaking results of a project or long-term contributions to their fields. The following examples highlight recognition received during fiscal year 2022, attesting to the exceptional talents of these researchers and underscoring the vitality of Livermore’s LDRD program.


Richard Klein

Richard Klein
Fellow, American Astronomical Society

LLNL physicist Richard Klein was selected for broad and influential contributions to computational astrophysics, for scientific achievements on radiatively-driven stellar winds and star formation theory and for training a generation of students and postdoctoral scholars.

“I am thrilled to get this award designation as a new fellow from the American Astronomical Society. I am deeply grateful to the many extraordinary collaborators, including senior researchers, my graduate students, and postdocs who I have worked with over the last several years both at LLNL and UC Berkeley.”


Other Awards

Sofia Quaglioni and Jennifer Pett-Ridge

Sofia Quaglioni and Jennifer Pett-Ridge have been honored as E.O. Lawrence award recipients

Two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists are recipients of the prestigious 2021 E.O. Lawrence Award that recognizes mid-career U.S. scientists and engineers for exceptional scientific, technical and engineering achievements related to the broad missions of the Department of Energy (DOE) and its programs.

Jennifer Pett-Ridge was recognized for her research in biological and environmental sciences for pioneering work in quantitative microbial ecology and leadership in developing and applying isotopic tools that help us discover and quantify how changing climate shapes the roles of microorganisms and plants in environmental biogeochemical cycles.

“It feels really wonderful, and both humbling and validating to receive this award,” Pett-Ridge said. “I’ve spent most of my career working with, building up and leading research teams, and our research output speaks to what that collaborative, interdisciplinary approach can enable. I’m not a person with a singular breakthrough — instead I’ve worked on multiple systems, developed methods, and gained a rich appreciation for both fundamental and applied questions. It means so much to me that DOE and the review committee valued that kind of career path.”

Sofia Quaglioni was cited for her work in nuclear physics, specifically for seminal contributions unifying the theory of structure and reactions of light nuclei, providing predictive capability critical for understanding inertial fusion and nuclear astrophysics, as well as pioneering applications of quantum device simulations for nuclear dynamics.

“I am thankful to the DOE Office of Nuclear Physics for funding my research for the past 15 years, and to all the friends and colleagues who have supported and encouraged me,” Quaglioni said. “Most of all, I am thankful to my loving husband and two wonderful boys for their infinite patience and for always believing in me.”

The Lawrence Award was established to honor the memory of Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron — an accelerator of subatomic particles — and was named the 1939 Nobel Laureate in physics for that achievement. Lawrence later played a leading role in establishing the U.S. system of national laboratories, and today, the DOE’s national laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore bear his name.


John Clauser, former Lab physicist

John Clauser, former Lab physicist, earns the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics

John Clauser, an experimental physicist who spent a decade at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has been awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with French scientist Alain Aspect and Austrian scientist Anton Zeilinger.

The Nobel Committee, made up of members from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, cited the trio for “experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science.”

“I’ve been up since 3 a.m. (when the Nobel Committee notified him) and I’m very happy,” he said from his home in Walnut Creek, California. “When I won the Wolf Prize, I thought there was a chance I could win the Nobel. But after a while, I stopped holding my breath…I’m just happy to be alive and make it through,” he quipped.

Clauser was born in Pasadena, California, and earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology. He went on to earn his master’s and Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University. After a career at UC Berkeley, LBNL, LLNL and in the private sector, he now spends his time sailing and writing physics research papers.



Burning Plasma Team receives honor from American Physical Society

The Burning Plasma Team has been awarded the 2022 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research by the American Physical Society. The team consists of members from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and from other institutions.

The team was cited “for the first laboratory demonstration of a burning deuterium-tritium plasma where alpha heating dominates the plasma energetics.”

“This honor recognizes the hard work and dedication conducted by the Burning Plasma Team in achieving and entering the burning plasma regime in a laboratory,” said Mark Herrmann, director for the Weapon Physics and Design Program within LLNL’s Weapons and Complex Integration Directorate.


Richard Kraus

Richard Kraus honored for inaugural American Physical Society award

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) research scientist Richard Kraus is the recipient of the inaugural American Physical Society’s 2023 Neil Ashcroft Early Career Award for Studies of Matter at Extreme High Pressure Conditions. Kraus is recognized for his outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions by an early-career scientist to studies of matter at extreme high-pressure conditions.

“To receive the inaugural Neil Ashcroft award is such an incredible honor. I hope that I can continue some of Neil’s legacy, pushing at the frontiers of our field while improving my ability to communicate the importance of what we do to a broader audience and the next generation of early-career scientists.”

Kraus received his Ph.D. in earth and planetary sciences and master’s in applied physics from Harvard University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in physics from the University of Cambridge and the University of Reno, respectively.


scientist Alison Ruth Christopherson

Lab scientist wins outstanding doctoral thesis award from American Physical Society

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientist Alison Ruth Christopherson has earned the American Physical Society’s (APS) Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis award.

The award recognizes exceptional early-career scientists who have performed original thesis work of outstanding scientific quality and achievement in the area of plasma physics.

Christopherson was honored “for theories of fusion alpha heating and metrics to assess proximity to thermonuclear ignition in inertially confined plasmas, and for the development of a novel measurement of hot electron preheat and its spatial distribution in direct-drive laser fusion.”

“It is an honor to receive an award named after the extraordinary scientist Marshall Rosenbluth, whose brilliance laid the foundations for multiple fields within plasma physics,” Christopherson said. “He set the bar impossibly high for the rest of us.”


Bruce Remington

Bruce Remington honored with American Physical Society award

Bruce Remington, a distinguished member of the technical staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has been honored with the American Physical Society’s (APS) 2023 George E. Duvall Shock Compression Science Award, which recognizes contributions to understanding condensed matter and non-linear physics through shock compression. Remington was specifically honored “for pioneering laser-driven high-pressure, solid-state material dynamics in high-energy density regimes.”

“This award suggests to me that our high-energy-density science (HEDS) focus area has matured to the level that it is accepted and now highlighted for recognition by the broader shock physics community. This is a rewarding milestone for our HEDS community,” Remington said.

Remington received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University in 1975 and his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Michigan State University in 1986. He did a two-year postdoctoral appointment in nuclear physics at LLNL, then joined the Laser Program (now the National Ignition Facility [NIF] and Photon Science Directorate) at LLNL in 1988. Since 1988, he has been a staff physicist in the Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Program followed by the High Energy Density Science Program. He has been the NIF Discovery Science Program leader since 2014. He is best known for his work in HED laboratory astrophysics, where he founded the High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics conference series in 1996 to foster this new science focus area.


physicist Debbie Callahan

LLNL physicist Debbie Callahan receives fusion leadership award

The Fusion Power Associates (FPA) Board of Directors has selected Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Debbie Callahan as a recipient of its 2022 Leadership Award.

Callahan received the award at the Fusion Power Associates 43rd Annual Meeting and Symposium, in Washington, D.C. FPA leadership awards have been given annually since 1980 to recognize persons who have shown outstanding leadership qualities in accelerating the development of fusion as a commercial power source.

“I’m honored to have been selected for this award and be in the company of other great leaders in fusion — both at LLNL and around the world," Callahan said. “I’ve spent my career in fusion — first in inertial fusion energy and then moving to working towards ignition on NIF. It’s been an incredible journey of interesting science and technology and I’ve gotten to work with a great team of people in ICF and NIF.”

Callahan joined LLNL in 1987 as a graduate student in the Department of Applied Science, UC Davis. She received her Ph.D. in 1993 and was hired into X Division as a postdoc working on inertial fusion energy. She has spent her career working on inertial fusion energy (IFE) and inertial confinement fusion (ICF). She has authored or co-authored more than 200 refereed journal publications.


Brian Spears
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Cognitive Simulation Directors’ Initiative principal investigator Brian Spears

LLNL researchers win HPCwire award for applying cognitive simulation to inertial confinement fusion

The high performance computing publication HPCwire announced Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as the winner of its Editor’s Choice award for Best Use of HPC in Energy for applying cognitive simulation (CogSim) methods to inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research.

Members of the CogSim team include LLNL researchers Brian Spears, Timo Bremer, Luc Peterson, Kelli Humbird, Rushil Anirudh, Brian Van Essen.

The award recognizes the team for progress in their machine learning-based approach to modeling ICF experiments performed at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and elsewhere, which has led to the creation of faster and more accurate models of ICF implosions.

Spears said. “I’m particularly grateful to the wonderful team that we have used to build the tools and techniques over the years. What’s most exciting to me and the rest of the team is that we’ve worked very hard to build AI into a tool that can bridge high-performance computing and experimental work and put that together into something that’s actually functional for science."

“It’s really a large thrust from many different projects all working together — energy, fusion, CogSim — so it’s really awesome to see people from physics to computer science workflows all working together to get this done,” Bremer said. “And then to have this recognized is really a great honor.”

Added Van Essen: “The ability to work with this multidisciplinary team to develop these novel models and methods for scaling the training of deep neural networks for strategically important science is an absolute blast and a highlight of working at the national laboratories.”



2022 Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity jointly awarded to the IPCC

The United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was jointly awarded the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, alongside the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The prize jury distinguished the two intergovernmental organizations for their role in developing scientific knowledge, alerting society, and informing policymakers to improve decision-making to combat the dual challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

LLNL climate scientists have contributed as invited authors to every one of the six IPCC Assessment Reports since the first (FAR) was released in 1990 through to the latest Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), released in August 2021, and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007 for these roles. The reports have documented and anchored global climate knowledge, melding the latest in observation and climate-model-based science.

The Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity was launched by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2020 with the objective of distinguishing those persons and global organizations whose work has greatly contributed to mitigating the impacts of climate change.



Two LLNL-led papers win Test of Time awards at 2022 IEEE VIS conference

Two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory-led teams received SciVis Test of Time awards at the 2022 IEEE VIS conference for papers that have achieved lasting relevancy in the field of scientific visualization.

Published in 2008, an LLNL-led paper that — for the first time — allowed Digital Morse Theory to be applied to large scale and three-dimensional data, won the 14-year Test of Time award for making a lasting impact to the decades-long application of computational topology to data analysis and visualization at scale. LLNL co-authors included at the time were LLNL graduate research student Attila Gyulassy and computer scientists Peer-Timo Bremer and Valerio Pascucci.

LLNL’s Bremer said the paper was the culmination of work that began with “a fundamental mathematical theory and ended in eminently practical and scalable algorithms.”

The SciVis 25-year Test of Time award went to a paper co-authored by former LLNL senior scientist Mark Duchaineau and current LLNL computer scientist Mark Miller, who has helped develop numerous scientific database, visualization, and data modeling technologies at LLNL.

“Most of the ideas lived on,” Duchaineau said. “My colleagues and I were delighted to see how these ideas spread and were extended and adapted in so many ways.”


DOE Office of Science Early Career Research Program Award

Mimi Yung, John Despotopulos and Timofey Frolov

DOE honors three early-career Lab scientists

Three scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are recipients of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science Early Career Research Program award.

Mimi Yung, John Despotopulos and Timofey Frolov are among 83 awardees receiving the recognition. Under the program, typical awards for DOE national laboratory staff are $500,000 per year for five years.

Yung, a biochemist, was selected for her work in biological and environmental research, Despotopulos was selected for his research in nuclear physics, and Frolov was chosen for his work in fusion energy sciences.

“I feel incredibly grateful and truly honored to receive this award. It is a real highlight of my career thus far,” Yung said.

John Despotopulos was nominated for his work in the measurement of neutron-induced cross sections of nuclides, that has implications for national security and can improve our understanding of stellar nucleosynthesis.

“I’m shocked at receiving the award and excited to be able to perform this research,” he said.

Timothy Frolov is a physicist in the Materials Science Division and was nominated in the fusion energy sciences division for his work in grain boundary structure engineering of resilient tungsten alloys for fusion applications.

“I am excited about receiving this award and continuing my research,” Frolov said.

“Supporting America’s scientists and researchers early in their careers will ensure the U.S. remains at the forefront of scientific discovery and develops the solutions to our most pressing challenges,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The funding will allow the recipients the freedom to find the answers to some of the most complex questions as they establish themselves as experts in their fields.”

The Early Career Research Program, now in its 13th year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during crucial early-career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.