Spotlighting teamwork and new ideas at LLNL

July 20, 2020, 11:42AMANS News

The sixth and most recent installment in the ANS Young Members Group (YMG) Spotlight on National Labs webinar series explored nuclear science and engineering at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on July 16.


A unique approach: “This webinar series continues to show off all the capabilities of the Department of Energy's national laboratories and the important work they do for the nation,” said YMG executive committee member and webinar moderator Patrick Snouffer.

Seven lab employees joined Snouffer to talk about their work at LLNL. Many emphasized LLNL’s cross-disciplinary team approach to big science and generating new ideas. That approach was baked into the lab by Ernest O. Lawrence from its origin in 1952 as a “new ideas” laboratory intended to accelerate and modernize the United States’ nuclear weapons program. LLNL now has a staff of 7,500—a number that is set to increase. With about two-thirds of staff working remotely, having a strong team structure ensures that research advances have continued without interruption during the coronavirus pandemic.

A closer look: First to speak was LLNL Director Bill Goldstein, who recently announced his planned retirement. Goldstein provided a brief overview of the lab’s work in topics as diverse as weapons, fusion, chromosome sequencing, the detection of new elements, biosecurity, Covid-19 response, global warming, and asteroid deflection.

Three staff members—Bruce Goodwin, senior laboratory fellow; Cynthia Nitta, associate program director for Future Stockpile Transformation; and Teresa Bailey, program working group leader for the National Stockpile—then talked about the history and current status of weapons programs at the lab, emphasizing innovation, safety, and deterrence.

Three more staff members—Caleb Mattoon, nuclear data physicist; Dan Casey, nuclear engineer with the National Ignition Facility; and Paul Miller, technical recruiting—explored nuclear data, fusion, and other research that enables modeling and innovations both at LLNL and in applications around the country.

Watch and learn: “It was an honor to be able to host the discussion with such talented scientists and engineers,” Snouffer said. “We were only able to cover a few of the programs LLNL works on, but it showed what an impressive national resource LLNL is. From their weapons mission to nuclear data to the National Ignition Facility, LLNL is doing cutting-edge research.”

Coming up next: The next installment in the Spotlight on National Labs series is now scheduled with Oak Ridge National Laboratory for August 12.

ANS’s entire library of informative webinars is archived and accessible to ANS members at Webinars on Demand. Upcoming ANS webinars are listed at

Don’t forget! This Tuesday, July 21, the YMG, Student Sections Committee, and Diversity and Inclusion in ANS Committee are hosting a fun-filled trivia night. No need to organize teams, just sign up for the members-only networking event and you’ll be assigned to a team.

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