Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



May 10, 2023

Tammy MaTammy Ma.

The Krell Institute, a nonprofit organization serving the scientific and educational communities, has awarded LLNL physicist Tammy Ma with its 2023 James Corones Award in Leadership, Community Building, and Communication.

The award, named for the institute’s founder, recognizes mid-career scientists and engineers who are making an impact on their chosen fields and for mentoring young people to be active in the science community and communicate their work. Ma is the lead for the LLNL Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) Institutional Initiative and program element leader for High-Intensity Laser High Energy Density (HED) Science‚ÄďAdvanced Photon Technologies.

“This award means a lot because it comes through the Krell Institute, a longtime partner of NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) and the Lab, and it honors James Corones and the tenets of leadership, community building, and science communication that he so embodied,” said Ma. “I’m very honored and will work hard to continue living up to those ideals.”

A committee of Krell friends and employees chose Ma, who also is Livermore’s associate program leader for HED Laboratory Plasmas, citing her outstanding contributions to and leadership of the fusion energy science community.

“We’re delighted to recognize Tammy Ma, an architect of the growing fusion energy sciences community and a communicator with demonstrated skills in connecting with lay audiences,” Krell Institute President Shelly Olsan said. “Few mid-career researchers have a comparably strong record in all the areas Jim Corones prized.”

Vincent Tang, principal deputy principal associate director of the NIF & Photon Science Directorate, noted Ma’s technical excellence, scientific leadership and outreach, and incredible track record of service to the field and community.

“I believe her community leadership and service as well as her advocacy have been instrumental in helping to establish IFE as one of the paths forward this decade for fusion energy,” he said.

Since earning her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of California, San Diego, in 2010, Ma has helped advance fusion, the process that powers the sun and stars, for scientific research. Her work has supported inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments at NIF. On Dec. 5, 2022, LLNL achieved ignition on NIF, producing more energy from the implosion than the laser energy used to drive it.

In her present position, Ma heads a group that works with universities and other institutions to advance the use of the world’s highest-intensity lasers for research into matter, astrophysics, fusion, and other subjects. With the IFE Initiative, she helps guide foundational fusion energy studies at LLNL and in the wider community to support the Department of Energy (DOE)’s drive to commercialize fusion energy.

Ma has helped build the HED and fusion communities, including establishing the IFE Virtual Collaboratory to encourage connections between private and public fusion programs. Among her many other activities, she serves on the DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) Advisory Committee, and in 2020 helped author a long-range plan for U.S. efforts in this area. She recently chaired for FES the IFE basic research needs study, which will inform the national IFE strategy.

Ma is an active communicator, providing congressional and executive branch briefs and testimony, appearing regularly in popular media, volunteering at science fairs, and speaking to groups that encourage women to participate in science. She made numerous appearances to communicate the importance of fusion and NIF’s ignition achievement, including with CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes, and can be found in multiple YouTube videos.

Ma won a 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering and a 2018 DOE Early Career Research Award.

The Krell Institute supports technology-based education and information programs with technical assistance, management expertise, and communications products, and collaborates with agencies and institutions to foster the nation’s competitive advantage in science and engineering. The Krell Institute also manages the DOE CSGF program, as well as the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship and Laboratory Residency Graduate Fellowship programs. Dr. Jeff Hittinger, another LLNL researcher, was also awarded the Corones award in 2021.

More Information:

“NIF’s Tammy Ma Lends Fusion Expertise to Book Imagining the Future,” NIF & Photon Science News, March 21, 2022

“NIF Physicist Tammy Ma Receives Fusion Excellence Award,” NIF & Photon Science News, August 17, 2021

“NIF’s Tammy Ma named ‘Woman of the Year,’ ” NIF & Photon Science News, March 29, 2019

“Tammy Ma Wins Presidential Early Career Award,” NIF & Photon Science News, February 2016

—Patricia Koning

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