Six Los Alamos scientists have been designated 2009 Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows in recognition of sustained, outstanding scientific contributions and exceptional promise for continued professional achievement. The title of Fellow is bestowed on only about 2 percent of the Laboratory's current technical staff. The new Fellows come from myriad scientific disciplines and have sustained high-level achievement important to the Laboratory, become recognized authorities in their fields, and made important discoveries used or cited by peers inside and outside the Laboratory.
Joaquin Birn of the Space Science and Applications Group studies complex plasma physics phenomena and reconnection, particularly in the Earth's magnetosphere and solar corona. Birn's development of a physical model of the static Earth's magnetotail, and his development of the most comprehensive magneto-hydrodynamic computational model for the dynamic magnetotail, is used as a benchmark for calculations of magnetotail dynamics. His magnetosphere research has been valuable to the Laboratory's nuclear test detection programs; his influential work is significantly increasing the accuracy of predictions for the behavior of energetic electrons from high-altitude nuclear explosions. Birn is the Laboratory's principal investigator for the Los Alamos Sun-Earth Connections Theory Program, NASA's major effort in the theory and modeling of space plasmas.