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LANL scientists honored for exceptional work

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Four Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists were honored at the Los Alamos Medal ceremony April 12 for their distinguished achievements that have impacted the success of the laboratory and the nation, either through mission accomplishments or enhancing the laboratory’s distinction.

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The Los Alamos Medal is the Laboratory’s highest distinction.

“There have been only 13 awardees since the Medal was established 17 years ago,” said Terry C. Wallace, Jr., director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. “And today’s medal winners are the first since 2014.”

Past medal winners include Hans Bethe and Harold Agnew.

This year, the Medals were awarded to Howard Menlove, who helped establish the laboratory’s technical expertise in nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation that became the foundation for international nonproliferation programs; and three members of the Human Genome Project team at Los Alamos – Scott Cram, Larry Deaven, and Robert Moyzis – who were instrumental in motivating the Department of Energy to formally initiate the Human Genome Project in 1987.

“Today’s awardees…all exemplify the full breadth of the Laboratory’s contribution to the nation, from basic research to applied missions,” said Wallace, “and it’s a privilege to be here today to honor them.”

Menlove began his career at LANL in 1967, when work to develop technical expertise regarding nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation was just beginning. Menlove would become “the single greatest worldwide contributor to the field of safeguards measurements in the last 50 years,” said Nancy Jo Nicholas, principal associate director for Global Security at the Laboratory.

Menlove developed neutron nondestructive assay methods that are still used around the world today by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, nuclear facility operators, and nuclear regulators.

He also continues to serve as a premier scientific leader and technical advisor, and is often called upon by the U.S. government. “In particular, Howard has provided technical advice for decades on the seemingly intractable proliferation challenge represented by North Korea,” said Nicholas. “When the IAEA was conducting inspections in (North Korea),

Howard personally led the charge to identify and develop verification strategies and instruments to apply safeguards to North Korea’s nuclear program.”

Cram, Deaven,and Moyzis were honored for their collective efforts to establish the Human Genome Project, which resulted in the complete sequencing of all 3 billion DNA base pairs and locating each human gene.

In all, the four awardees tangibly demonstrate “what the Laboratory values: our people and the extraordinary talents they bring to accomplish our mission,” said Wallace.