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January 2013

NNSA BlogThe Center for Strategic & International Studies has selected two NNSA employees as part of its 2013 class for the Nuclear Scholars Initiative. The recently selected scholars hail from NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Security and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs.

Craig Wiener, a Defense Nuclear Security specialist, is a doctoral candidate in Biodefense at George Mason University, and specializes in national security technology policy, international security, counterproliferation, and intelligence studies. His research as a CSIS Nuclear Scholar will involve countering Uranium-233 proliferation pathways for states seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Alicia Swift, a Global Threat Reduction Initiative fellow and nuclear engineering PhD candidate at University of Tennessee, is currently conducting physical protection upgrades at sites within the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean that house nuclear and radiological material. She is also NNSA Blogworking on the conversion of U.S. high performance research reactors from HEU to LEU fuel as part of her fellowship.

Each year, CSIS selects roughly 20 graduate students and young professionals throughout the U.S. to participate in the initiative. During the six-month program, the Scholars meet regularly to discuss nuclear weapons issues and prepare individual papers that are published in a CSIS-produced journal.

Read more about the CSIS Nuclear Scholars Initiative here.

NNSA earlier this month conducted a training course on Consequence Management (I-CM) in Israel. The training, held in the Soreq Nuclear Research Center, was attended by 25 Israeli participants. The training focused on how to respond to a radiological terrorism event.


NNSA BlogSidney Drell, physicist, arms control expert and adviser, is one of 12 eminent researchers recently named by President Obama as a recipient of the National Medal of Science. In addition, 11 inventors are recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Both awards represent the highest honors bestowed by the United States government upon scientists, engineers and inventors.

Drell was recognized for his research on quantum electrodynamics and quantum chronodynamics and for applying basic physics to public policy, national security and intelligence. 

Drell, who until he retired last March was a member of the Board of Governors for both Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, and Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the managing contractors for the Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories since 2008 and 2007, respectively, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution where his work has focused on nuclear nonproliferation. He also is a professor of theoretical physics (emeritus) at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Drell will formally receive his award from President Obama at a White House ceremony to be scheduled in early 2013.

Read more about Drell also see the complete list of award recipients.


Sandia principal technologist Richard Simpson has filled a canyon with soap bubbles, shot photos of flaming liquefied natural gas from a helicopter, floated balloons hundreds of feet in the air to calibrate cameras, chopped out pieces of a Cape Canaveral launch pad to haul across the country for tests, and hoisted a beer with Paul Tibbets, pilot of the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan in World War II.

He also has been audited for buying such things as party bubble juice on his government procurement card.

“You buy 20 party bubble machines, they kind of wonder why. You buy 50 gallons of party bubble juice, and they really wonder why,” he said.

Simpson has worked with NASA, DOE, United Launch Alliance, the Air Force and others at Sandia and Cape Canaveral to help solve problems and sign agreements.

Read more about Simpson.

About the photo:
Principal Technologist Richard Simpson adjusts an igniter assembly at a lake Sandia built a few years ago to conduct the world’s largest liquefied natural gas fire tests ever done on water.

Seven individuals recently graduated from the Y-12 Apprentice Program at a ceremony held at Y-12. Each graduate spent three to four years with a journeyworker and attended between 144 and 246 hours of classroom training. Read more.



Y-12 historian Ray Smith, left, joins Lincoln Memorial University board of trustees chairman Pete DeBusk in front of the “Scientists Who Changed the World” exhibit in the university’s Math and Science Building. Smith contributed to the permanent display on the main campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Located in LMU’s new Math and Science Building, the display pays tribute to nuclear energy research and the subsequent creation of what is now the U.S. Department of Energy. Read more about his work.

NNSA BlogNNSA welcomes Air Force Col. James C. Dawkins Jr. as Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. He will assist Don Cook, NNSA’s deputy administrator for Defense Programs, in directing the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which maintains the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile without underground nuclear testing.

Dawkins has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general.

Most recently, Dawkins served as the commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, N.D. He was responsible for providing combat-ready B-52H Stratofortress aircraft, crews, and associated combat support for deterrence, crisis response, global power projection, major theater war and maritime operations and Air and Space Expeditionary Force deployments. He also served as the installation commander.

Dawkins was commissioned in 1989 from the Air Force Officer Training School. He is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours in the B-52, B-2, RC-135, F-16CJ and the F-111. He has commanded at the wing, group and squadron level and has served in two joint assignments involving nuclear operations and policy. He served as the deputy director for Global Innovation and Strategy Center at U.S. Strategic Command and as operations officer in the Directorate for Global Operations, J-3, the Joint Staff.

Dawkins has supported Operations Odyssey Dawn, Enduring Freedom, Decisive Guard, Northern Watch, and Southern Watch. He has also deployed as the director of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, Joint Operations Center in Afghanistan.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has published its 2012 annual report highlighting its work applying innovative science and technology to strengthen the nation's security.

See Livermore’s annual report.


A celebration was held yesterday to honor  Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, NNSA's Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application, for her service and commitment to NNSA. Finan has been selected to serve as commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center in Albuquerque, N.M. Acting NNSA Administrator Neile Miller, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook, and others presented Finan with tokens of apperception to Finan.  

Finan has been at NNSA since January 2011. Prior to NNSA, she served as the Inspector General of the Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) at Barksdale Air Force Base. She entered the Air National Guard in 1982 as an enlisted cryptographic equipment repairperson. Finan received her Air Force commission in 1985 as a distinguished graduate through Officer Training School.

Finan will succeed Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak. He has been selected for reassignment as Assistant Chief of Staff, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters United States Air Force, Pentagon. A change of command ceremony is planned for Feb. 7 in Albuquerque.

Mike Roberts, Kansas City Field Office, was among the Secretarial Appreciation Award honorees recently at DOE in Washington D.C.

Roberts was recognized for Excellence in Project Management for his contributions as the Federal Project Director of the newly constructed $750 million replacement facility for NNSA’s Kansas City Plant. To meet a cost reduction target of $100 million annually for the Kansas City Plant, Roberts established a multi-agency project team of more than 45 federal and contractor engineering staff that used third-party financing to construct a 1.5 million square foot industrial facility with LEED gold certification in 29 months. Despite the complex nature of NNSA component fabrication requirements, the project was completed on time and within budget.

During the past two years, The Secretary of Energy has presented more than 60 individual and team awards to recognize Management and Operational excellence in support of the DOE’s vision for transformational clean energy, science, and security solutions that are significant, timely and cost effective.