Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



Tammy Ma Selected for DOE Early Career Award

NIF & Photon Science plasma physicist Tammy Ma has been named a recipient of the prestigious Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Research Program (ECRP).

Now in its ninth year, the program 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.

Tammy MaTammy Ma

“Supporting talented researchers early in their career is key to building and maintaining a skilled and effective scientific workforce for the nation,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “By investing in the next generation of scientific researchers, we are supporting lifelong discovery science to fuel the nation’s innovation system. We are proud of the accomplishments these young scientists have already made, and look forward to following their achievements in years to come.”

Ma will receive a total of $2.5 million over five years to conduct research for her proposal, “Multi-ps (picosecond) short-pulse laser-driven particle acceleration for novel HED (high energy density) and ICF (inertial confinement fusion) applications.”

“I am so grateful for everything the Lab has provided to allow me to thrive,” Ma said, “an incredibly nurturing environment, freedom and support to be innovative, the LDRD (Laboratory Directed Research and Development) grant that laid the groundwork for this project, mentors that continuously encourage me and the family of colleagues that makes it fun to come to work every day.

“I’m honored to receive this award, and the coolest part is that I’ll get to extend the work of many of the LLNL giants that came before—this type of short-pulse particle acceleration was first discovered on the Nova laser (NIF’s predecessor), and now I get to use NIF ARC (Advanced Radiographic Capability) to push it forward into the multi-picosecond, high-energy regime.”

Ma earned her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Caltech in 2005 and received her master’s degree in 2008 and Ph.D. in 2010, both from the University of California, San Diego. Following graduate school, she completed a postdoctoral appointment at LLNL before becoming a staff scientist in 2012.

She currently serves as chair of the Lab-wide LDRD Program and as the X-Ray Analysis Group lead for LLNL’s ICF program at NIF. Ma has authored or co-authored more than 140 peer-reviewed journal publications and has been recognized with the Stix Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Plasma Research by the American Physical Society and the Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.