New director and mission transition at NIF

April 29, 2013
Livermore, CA--Jeffrey Atherton has been named the new director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, effective May 1. NIF itself is making a transistion to user facility.

Livermore, CA--Jeffrey Atherton has been named the new director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), effective May 1. The previous director, Ed Moses, will remain the principal associate director for the NIF & Photon Science Directorate. NIF itself is making a transistion to user facility.

“The role of the NIF director has grown, become more visible and needs to be continually interactive with the user communities; with respect to this alone it has become a full-time position,” LLNL director Parney Albright said. “It is time to redefine the role of the NIF director to concentrate on implementation of the governance process, be responsible for developing and maintaining a facility use plan, and communicating with the high-energy density science community and the broader set of stakeholders.

To accommodate and prioritize the demand for NIF shots, Albright and Moses have implemented several processes in NIF governance. In addition to naming Atherton, these include:
• Formal interactions with various working groups and councils involved in high-energy density stockpile stewardship and weapons science, national security, inertial confinement fusion, and basic science programs
• The formation of subject matter expert working groups in targets, diagnostics, and operations
• The proactive work of several NIF planning groups and the NIF User Office.

Atherton will report to Bill Goldstein, the Laboratory’s deputy director for Science & Technology. Atherton received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT and began his career at LLNL in 1991 in the Laser Directorate as a system manager for the Beamlet Pockels cell. By 2004 he was the associate project manager for line replaceable unit production, and from 2005 to 2006, he was program leader for NIF optics/target science and technology. Atherton was named program director for target experimental systems in 2006, and most recently served as the deputy principal associate director for NIF science and technology.

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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