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Hecker receives Enrico Fermi Award

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Former LANL Director Sig Hecker receives prestigious honor

By Carol A. Clark

Siegfried Hecker, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford and director emeritus of Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been named a recipient of the 2009 Enrico Fermi Award. The award is one of the government’s oldest and most prestigious science and technology prizes. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the award Thursday, which is shared with John Bannister Goodenough of the . The Presidential honor carries a $375,000 prize, which will be divided between the recipients. They also receive a citation and gold medal. “The 2009 Enrico Fermi Award will go to two scientists who have selflessly devoted themselves to our nation’s energy and national security challenges,” said in a news release. “These two individuals are pioneers in innovative research and I want to thank them for their work and congratulate them on this award.” The award, which honors 1938 Physics Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, will be presented by at an upcoming ceremony in “I want to personally congratulate Sig Hecker for this very prestigious award,” LANL Director Michael Anastasio said. “From plutonium metallurgy to stewardship of the nation’s nuclear deterrent, to building international collaborations, Sig’s contributions to national security are significant and inspirational to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s scientists. His scientific and management achievements span a lifetime of tireless advocacy of science in the public interest. On behalf of Los Alamos National Laboratory, congratulations.” Hecker, 65, is being recognized for his contributions to plutonium metallurgy, his broad scientific leadership and for his energetic and continuing efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons worldwide. Hecker said he is “deeply honored and humbled” to receive the award. “I have been most fortunate to have worked with inspirational people at great institutions such as the Los Alamos National Laboratory and ,” he said. “I have been able to pursue my passion for science and technology, especially in the nuclear arena and how these affect international security.” Hecker is credited with resolving a long-standing controversy involving the stability of certain structures or phases in plutonium alloys near equilibrium that arose from significant discrepancies between and former Soviet research on plutonium metallurgy. He also contributed to the understanding of plutonium aging, which is of critical importance in assessing the reliability and performance of the nuclear weapons stockpile. In addition, Hecker was one of the principal architects of the science-based stockpile stewardship approach, which is still in use today to certify the safety and reliability of ’s nuclear deterrent. During the latter part of his tenure at LANL, where he was based until 2005, Hecker was a pioneer in global nuclear nonproliferation and threat reduction, establishing collaborative research and mutual cooperation with the nuclear weapons laboratories in Russia and other former Soviet Republics. “I really attribute most of receiving this award to my colleagues at over the years and the inspiration that place gave to me,” Hecker said during an interview from his office at Thursday afternoon. “It’s the place of and the name of that has opened doors and made so many things possible for me. Now besides my work in the spirit of nuclear stewardship I try to inspire the next generation.” Hecker credits his beloved wife of 44 years, Nina, saying “she deserves half of this.” “Our four daughters all grew up in and they and my wife had to live with my strange work habits and trips to unusual places around the world. Nina has made it easy, she’s been so supportive in everything I’ve done.” Hecker earned a bachelor’s degree in master’s in 1967 and a doctorate in 1968, all in metallurgy from . He directed LANL from 1986 to 1997 and remained there as a senior fellow until 2005 when he joined Stanford’s faculty. Goodenough, 87, is being honored for his lifetime contributions to materials science and technology, particularly the science underlying lithium-ion batteries. The Enrico Fermi award, established in 1956, is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Energy. It honors the memory of Enrico Fermi, leader of the group of scientists who, on , achieved the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear reaction at the . Among the first recipients were physicists John von Neumann, Ernest O. Lawrence, Hans Bethe and J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Siegfried Hecker, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford and director emeritus of Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been named a recipient of the 2009 Enrico Fermi Award.

The award is one of the U.S. government’s oldest and most prestigious science and technology prizes.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the award Thursday, which is shared with John Bannister Goodenough of the University of Texas.

The Presidential honor carries a $375,000 prize, which will be divided between the recipients. They also receive a citation and gold medal.

“The 2009 Enrico Fermi Award will go to two scientists who have selflessly devoted themselves to our nation’s energy and national security challenges,” Chu said in a news release. “These two individuals are pioneers in innovative research and I want to thank them for their work and congratulate them on this award.”

The award, which honors 1938 Physics Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, will be presented by Chu at an upcoming ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“I want to personally congratulate Sig Hecker for this very prestigious award,” LANL Director Michael Anastasio said. “From plutonium metallurgy to stewardship of the nation’s nuclear deterrent, to building international collaborations, Sig’s contributions to national security are significant and inspirational to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s scientists. His scientific and management achievements span a lifetime of tireless advocacy of science in the public interest. On behalf of Los Alamos National Laboratory, congratulations.”

Hecker, 65, is being recognized for his contributions to plutonium metallurgy, his broad scientific leadership and for his energetic and continuing efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Hecker said he is “deeply honored and humbled” to receive the award.

“I have been most fortunate to have worked with inspirational people at great institutions such as the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Stanford University,” he said. “I have been able to pursue my passion for science and technology, especially in the nuclear arena and how these affect international security.”

Hecker is credited with resolving a long-standing controversy involving the stability of certain structures or phases in plutonium alloys near equilibrium that arose from significant discrepancies

between U.S. and former Soviet research on plutonium metallurgy.

He also contributed to the understanding of plutonium aging, which is of critical importance in assessing the reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

In addition, Hecker was one of the principal architects of the science-based stockpile stewardship approach, which is still in use today to certify the safety and reliability of America’s nuclear deterrent.

During the latter part of his tenure at LANL, where he was based until 2005, Hecker was a pioneer in global nuclear nonproliferation and threat reduction, establishing collaborative research and mutual cooperation with the nuclear weapons laboratories in Russia and other former Soviet Republics.

“I really attribute most of receiving this award to my colleagues at Los Alamos over the years and the inspiration that place gave to me,” Hecker said during an interview from his office at Stanford University Thursday afternoon. “It’s the place of Los Alamos and the name of Los Alamos that has opened doors and made so many things possible for me. Now besides my work in the spirit of nuclear stewardship I try to inspire the next generation.”

Hecker credits his beloved wife of 44 years, Nina, saying “she deserves half of this.”

“Our four daughters all grew up in Los Alamos and they and my wife had to live with my strange work habits and trips to unusual places around the world. Nina has made it easy, she’s been so supportive in everything I’ve done.”

Hecker earned a bachelor’s degree in 1965, a master’s in 1967 and a doctorate in 1968, all in metallurgy from Case Western Reserve University.

 He directed LANL from 1986 to 1997 and remained there as a senior fellow until 2005 when he joined Stanford’s faculty.

Goodenough, 87, is being honored for his lifetime contributions to materials science and technology, particularly the science underlying lithium-ion batteries.

The Enrico Fermi award, established in 1956, is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Energy. It honors the memory of Enrico Fermi, leader of the group of scientists who, on Dec. 2, 1942, achieved the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear reaction at the University of Chicago.

Among the first recipients were physicists John von Neumann, Ernest O. Lawrence, Hans Bethe and J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.