NNSA BlogLawrence Livermore National Laboratory broke ground today on a modular and sustainable supercomputing facility that will provide a flexible infrastructure able to accommodate the Laboratory’s growing demand for high performance computing (HPC).

The $9.7 million building, located on the Laboratory’s east side, will ensure computer room space to support the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program’s unclassified HPC systems. ASC is the computing arm of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) effort to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent without testing – stockpile stewardship. 

For the press release from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, click here. 

About Photo: From left, Patricia Falcone, deputy director for Science and Technology, Charles Verdon, principal associate director for Weapons and Complex Integration, Michel McCoy, director of Weapons Simulation and Computing, Livermore Mayor John Marchand, Bill Goldstein, LLNL director, and Dona Crawford, associate director of the Computation Directorate.

May 29, 2015 at 10:00 am

NNSA’s Director of the Office of Enterprise Project Management Michael Hickman has announced that he will be retiring effective May 29, 2015 after 34 years distinguished federal service. As a member of the Senior Executive Service, he has spent approximately 25 of those years in senior leadership positions across DOE and NNSA.

In his current capacity, Hickman has been instrumental in helping NNSA establish the Office of Acquisition and Project Management, under which he serves, to address longstanding and significant contract and project management challenges identified by the Government Accountability Office, the Inspector General, and Congress. He developed policies and procedures for enterprise-wide project management that have resulted in NNSA delivering its $800 million project portfolio approximately $60 million – or 7.5 percent – under budget, thus contributing to NNSA’s credibility being restored on Capitol Hill and NNSA’s removal from the GAO’s High Risk List for contracts and projects less than $750 million.

Hickman served as Acting Deputy Manager for the Los Alamos Field Office for a period of time during 2013. From 2005-2010, Hickman was assigned as the Technical Director, Office of Defense Programs Project Management and Systems Support. From 2004-2005, he was assigned as Construction Manager, Office of Defense Programs Project Management and Systems Support. From 1994-2004, Hickman was assigned as a Federal Project Director for NNSA’s Tritium Extraction Facility project at the Savannah River Site (SRS). Hickman began his career with DOE/NNSA at SRS in 1989 supporting the Reactor Restart Program.

Prior to working at DOE, he worked in commercial nuclear power operations and construction-working for TVA at the Watts Bar Unit 1 nuclear power plant, Alabama Power and with Daniels Construction at various nuclear power construction sites in Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia and Kansas. He is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University with a post-graduate MBA from Nova Southeastern University. He served six years in the US Navy in the nuclear powered submarine force.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Michael Hickman (right) receives the Distinguished Service Award and NNSA’s Gold Medal from Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management, Robert B. Raines (left). Hickman received the award and medal for exemplary federal service at DOE and NNSA and his lasting contributions to the delivering safe quality construction on budget.

May 28, 2015 at 8:00 am

Three researchers from NNSA labs were among the nine exceptional U.S. scientists and engineers honored with the 2014 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award. The awards recognize mid-career scientists and engineers in the United States who have advanced new research and scientific discovery in the chemical, biological, environmental and computer sciences; condensed matter and materials; fusion and plasma sciences; high energy and nuclear physics; and national security and nonproliferation.

  • Pavel Bochev, Sandia National Laboratories, is honored for his pioneering theoretical and practical advances in numerical methods for partial differential equations which includes the invention of new algorithms, the rigorous mathematical analysis of algorithms and of the mathematical models to which they apply.

  • Eric E. Dors, Los Alamos National Laboratory, is honored for his development of a new generation of exo-atmospheric radiation sensors used to fulfill a critical mission need for satellite-based nuclear explosion monitoring crucial to DOE's nonproliferation mission of global nuclear detonation monitoring and verification of the Limited Test Ban Treaty.

  • Christopher L. Fryer, Los Alamos National Laboratory, is honored for his major advances addressing fundamental questions in astrophysics, computational multiphysics, and high-energy density science, and more specifically, for supernova core collapse work using 3-dimensional modeling assimilation to model, explain, and predict astrophysical observations (e.g. from NASA’s Swift mission) and phenomena. 

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May 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

NNSA BlogPacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recently hosted the closing ceremony for NNSA’s Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) Class of 2014 in Washington, D.C. The ceremony marked the completion of the Fellows’ one-year appointment to NNSA program offices across the country.

Speakers at the event included Cindy Lersten, NNSA Senior Advisor to the Administrator; Rear Admiral Randall M. Hendrickson, NNSA Administrator for Management and Budget; Phil Calbos, NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs; and Heidi Hamling, PNNL NGFP Program Manager. The class of 2014, which began its fellowships in June 2014, comprised 35 Fellows from 25 top universities across the United States. Currently, more than 20 of the Fellows have accepted positions within the NNSA.

NGFP is administered by PNNL to attract and develop future leaders for NNSA’s critical mission areas. Over the program’s two decades of operations, approximately 80 percent of program alumni have been hired not only federal positions at DOE/NNSA but also other federal agencies and by national laboratories to advance the nuclear security mission.

May 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

NNSA BlogDavid Huizenga, NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, recently served as president of the Fifth Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria.

The meeting brought together 61 joint convention contracting parties who reviewed national reports, discussed issues and conclusions during the culmination of a three-year peer review process. Huizenga said that previous improvements made to the review process increased the level of parties’ engagement in open and candid exchanges and the sharing of knowledge, intended to enhance the level of safety in radioactive waste and spent fuel management worldwide.

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May 26, 2015 at 11:37 am

NNSA BlogEvery year on Memorial Day, we honor the memory of those who died while defending our great Nation. We owe them, as well as their families and loved ones, more than we can ever repay for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf. At 3 p.m. on Monday, wherever you may happen to be, please stop and pause for one minute to remember those service members who answered the call to safeguard our interests around the world and to protect the values we hold dear. It is because of them we continue to enjoy our freedoms as Americans.

Memorial Day also represents the unofficial start of the summer holiday season. We hope that everyone will have a chance to take some well-deserved leave in the weeks ahead. But, as you do, please give careful thought and consideration to safety as you travel and enjoy those outdoor activities traditionally associated with summer. Every year, many Americans suffer serious injuries during the critical 100+ days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We really do want you to relax and enjoy your time-off. But, we also want you to return home safe and sound. 

Frank Klotz and Madelyn Creedon
“Mission First, People Always”

May 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

Three researchers from NNSA’s three national labs are among 44 recipients from across the nation to receive significant funding for research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program. The effort, now in its sixth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

The three include:

Yunyan Zhang, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was selected for her research titled, “The Effect of Soil Moisture and Surface Heterogeneity on Clouds and Precipitation: Inferences from ARM Observations and Large Eddy Simulations.”

Christopher Lee, from Los Alamos National Laboratory was selected for his proposal on “Precision Probes of the Strong Interaction.”

Christopher Kliewer, Sandia National Laboratories California, was selected for his proposal “Interactions between Surface Chemistry and Gas-Phase Combustion: New Optical Tools for Probing Flame-Wall Interactions and the Heterogeneous Chemistry of Soot Growth and Oxidation in Flames.”Strong Interaction.”

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May 18, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Participants at the fifth Workshop on Signatures of Medical and Industrial Isotope Production (WOSMIP) in Brussels, Belgium

Every day, thousands of patients worldwide undergo medical tests, diagnostics, and treatments that use radioactive materials.  These vital materials, such as molybdeum-99 (Mo-99), must be produced continuously to keep up with demand.   One consequence of some Mo‑99 production is the release of emissions that can complicate international efforts to detect secret nuclear explosions.  Nuclear explosion monitoring networks, such as the International Monitoring System (IMS) operated under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), use sensors that can detect gases released by a nuclear explosion.  Mo-99 production emissions from a specific type of production process can interfere with these sensors, complicating the ability of the monitoring networks to detect a nuclear explosion such as the announced North Korean nuclear explosive tests. 

Improving U.S. and international nuclear explosion detection efforts is a key objective of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) mission to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.  The NNSA and experts at its National Laboratories play a vital role in strengthening the monitoring and verification capability of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization (CTBTO PrepCom).  NNSA experts work closely with the CTBTO PrepCom to operate, maintain and improve the capabilities of the worldwide IMS, supported by the International Data Centre in Vienna, Austria.

The CTBTO PrepCom, the Belgian Research Institute (SCK•CEN), and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) co-hosted a workshop in Brussels, Belgium from May 11‑14, 2015, to explore innovative ways of reducing the impact of emissions from fission-based medical isotope production on nuclear explosion monitoring networks.  This event, the fifth in the series of Workshops on the Signatures of Medical and Industrial Isotope Production (WOSMIP), brought together over 100 international representatives from the nuclear explosion monitoring and isotope production communities.  

To date, six current or future Mo-99 producers have signed a voluntary agreement to collaborate with the CTBTO PrepCom to address the issue.  The CTBTO PrepCom Executive Secretary encouraged other producers to sign the Radioxenon Emissions Pledge and seek ways to reduce their emissions.

NNSA also stressed the importance of reducing emissions while ensuring the reliable supply of Mo-99 produced without the use of highly enriched uranium.    

recent P5 statement for the 2015 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference also highlighted this emissions issue.  The statement said “The P5 recognize that while medical isotope production is a critically important activity and while the objective of ensuring the security of supply of medical radioisotopes is of utmost importance, they share a common interest in minimizing the interference of xenon radioisotope releases with global radioactive monitoring activity.  The P5 believe that all states should engage with producers in their regions to assess the amount of emission and to reduce where it is possible their negative impact on the environment through minimization of emission from fission-based medical isotope production.”  

About The Photo
: Participants at the fifth Workshop on Signatures of Medical and Industrial Isotope Production (WOSMIP) in Brussels, Belgium

May 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm

2015 NNSA Science Council

The 2015 NNSA Defense Programs Science Council, comprising representatives from each of the three NNSA national security laboratories and one person representing the production sites, is now fully staffed.

The Science Council was re-established in 2010 by Dr. Don Cook, Deputy Administrator of Defense Programs, to investigate and explore cross-cutting science, technology and engineering issues and opportunities that have an impact across NNSA. The Science Council supports the NNSA’s Defense Programs in a wide range of areas including promoting the best science and technology throughout the enterprise, analyzing stockpile planning and hedge strategies, and communications such as support to the NNSA Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan development. In addition, the Science Council also supports the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, Office of Counterintelligence, DoD and other federal agencies in areas aligned to Defense Programs interests.

About the photo:
Members of the 2015 NNSA Defense Programs Science Council include, from left to right, Kevin Greenaugh, from NNSA headquarters who serves as chairperson of the council, Bob Putnam from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Steven Trujillo from Sandia National Laboratories, Jim Rathkopf from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Rob Steinhoff from the National Security Campus who represents NNSA's production sites.

May 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

10th Punt JCC

From May 6-7, a 23-member coalition of officials from NNSA, DOE, the DOE National Laboratories, and other U.S. government agencies traveled to Chengdu, China, for the 10th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting under the U.S.-China Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology (PUNT) Agreement. PUNT outlines the United States commitment to deepening its working relationship with China to address important global nuclear challenges, and continue expanding cooperation between the two countries on nuclear safety and security issues.

PUNT JCC Flags PhotoThis year’s JCC was co-chaired by NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington, DOE Assistant Secretary Pete Lyons, and China National Energy Administration (NEA) Director General Liu Baohua. The co-chairs opened the meeting by noting long-standing U.S.-China cooperation in nuclear energy and nonproliferation, and encouraging all participants to build on the achievements of the PUNT Agreement. The co-chairs also called on the PUNT working groups to explore ways of expanding their activities. 

The five PUNT Working Groups discussed their joint efforts in nuclear energy technology, nuclear safeguards and security, nuclear environmental waste management, emergency response, and radioactive source security. All the working groups agreed to a program of work to include in the official Record of Meeting.

The U.S. delegation capped off the PUNT events with a tour of the Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) in Chengdu. NPIC led the design and construction of China’s first commercial nuclear power plant.

May 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm