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LANL's Knapp to take over as Livermore acting director

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By John Severance

With Parney Albright stepping down as director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the end of October, that opened the door for somebody else.

That somebody else is Bret Knapp, who was the principal associate director for weapons programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Knapp came to LANL in 2006 after spending 26 years at Livermore.

LANL director Charlie McMillan, who also spent many years working at LLNL, said that Craig Leasure will serve as the acting principal associate director for the weapons program.

“Bret Knapp is no stranger to Livermore having worked there for 26 years before coming to Los Alamos in 2006,” McMillan said. “He has built strong and effective relationships across the laboratory community, the DOE/NNSA, the Department of Defense, and with other stakeholders.”

According to a LLNL release, Albright is stepping down to “ pursue his broader interests and contributions to the U.S. national security enterprise.” Albright has served as LLNL director since December 2011.

Albright also steps down as president of Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), which manages the laboratory for the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration.

In a meeting before employees, Albright announced “I cannot express in words how much of an honor it has been for me to work with you, and to see you continue to grow and flourish as a national security laboratory to make a difference for our Nation.”

Norman Pattiz, chairman of the LLNS Board of Governors, indicated in a memo distributed to all employees: “The LLNS Board respects and accepts Parney’s decision and appreciates his many contributions to LLNL and the nation ... Parney has been a strong advocate and spokesman for expanding the contributions of LLNL to the entire spectrum of lab programs and has brought about significant advancements in how the laboratory executes work for interagency sponsors.”

Pattiz advised that a national search for a new laboratory director would be conducted under the leadership of the University of California. In the interim, Knapp will serve as acting LLNL director and LLNS president effective Nov. 1.

According to the LLNL statement, Knapp is a recognized expert in national security with 26 years of work experience at LLNL in programmatic roles of increasing responsibility before he joined the senior management team at LANL in 2006.

“He is an energetic and passionate leader with 33 years of combined experience between the two labs,” Pattiz said.

In addressing LLNL employees, Knapp said: “I am honored to be selected by the LLNS Board of Governors to serve during this transition period until a permanent successor is named. I would also like to acknowledge Director Albright for his hard work and dedication to the people and programs at LLNL. Livermore is a vital national security institution, and I will work to continue and grow its cutting edge science and engineering programs.”

Knapp has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Davis.

According to the LANL website, Knapp was responsible for how the weapons program integrates planning and execution of the stockpile stewardship program.

Stockpile stewardship encompasses the activities necessary to assure the stockpile without underground nuclear testing.

This mission includes physics and engineering design, small-scale research and development programs, plutonium sustainment activities, pit manufacturing, and leadership and oversight of multi-million dollar programs including Advanced Simulation and Computing, science campaigns, and directed stockpile work.