LANL researchers garner fellows prize

-A A +A

Five scientists recognized for their work

By Special to the Monitor

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows organization has selected five researchers as recipients of the 2010 Fellows Prizes, which honor exemplary scientific research and leadership. The Fellows organization includes some of the Laboratory’s most prominent scientists.
The Fellows awarded two Fellows Prizes for Outstanding Research in Science or Engineering to Sergei Tretiak and Geoffrey S. Waldo, two Fellows Prizes for Outstanding Leadership in Science or Engineering to Kerry Habiger and Clifford Unkefer and a Fellows Prize for Special Achievement to Tammy P. Taylor. Each prize includes a cash award and recognition by LANL Director Mike Anastasio at a ceremony scheduled for Nov. 30.
The Fellows Prize for Outstanding Research in Science or Engineering commends individuals for exemplary research performed at LANL within the last 10 years that has had a significant effect on a scientific discipline or program. The Fellows Prize selection committee selected Tretiak in part for his development of organic light-emitting diodes for flexible displays, organic lasers, light-harvesting energy devices, and other important technologies. Tretiak has published more than 90 papers in the past 10 years in esteemed scientific journals and is often invited as keynote speaker at international scientific conferences.
Waldo is coauthor of four important articles in Nature Biotechnology, beginning in 1999 as first author of “Rapid Protein Folding Assay using Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP).” GFP has since become one of the most important tools in bioscience, and Waldo’s work has been integral to securing more than $50 million in research grants at the Laboratory.
The Fellows Prize for Outstanding Leadership in Science or Engineering commends individuals who stimulate the research interests of talented younger laboratory staff members and who encourage junior researchers to make the personal sacrifices necessary to become effective leaders. The selection committee chose Habiger for being key to creating the SUMMIT program—a rapid-response engineering organization serving the United States intelligence community. Habiger has expanded the program from a $200,000-a-year endeavor in 1998 to its current sustained annual value of $40 million a year during the past five years. The program involves hundreds of Los Alamos scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff.
Unkefer is leader of the newly formed Bioenergy and Environmental Science Group at the Laboratory and also serves as director of the National Stable Isotope Resource funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The selection committee cited the repeated praise Unkefer has received for taking a genuine interest in, and directly assisting, the career development of students, postdocs, and staff. A generous collaborator and mentor, Unkefer has more than 80 publications in scientific journals, has developed 15 patents, and has emerged as a leader in efforts to promote LANL’s prominence in transportation and biofuels research.
In addition to the two traditional prize categories, the Fellows Prize selection committee this year found it fitting to award the Fellows Prize for Special Achievement to Taylor, who led the Nuclear Defense Research and Development Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council.
In 2008, this subcommittee issued a “Roadmap” for fiscal years 2010-2014 that is now being used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to prioritize tasks in nuclear materials detection, forensics, and response and recovery. Taylor’s work on the Roadmap was recognized by Tara O’Toole, DHS Undersecretary for Science and Technology.
The Laboratory Fellows organization was established in 1981 and is made up of technical staff members who have been appointed by the Lab director to the rank of Fellow in recognition of sustained outstanding contributions and exceptional promise for continued professional achievement.