Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

November 14, 2023

Optica Fellow Logo

Peter J.K. (Jeff) Wisoff, principal associate director of LLNL’s NIF and Photon Science (NIF&PS) Directorate, and Jean-Michel Di Nicola, co-program director for the NIF&PS Laser Science & Technology and Systems Engineering organization, have been selected as fellows of Optica (formerly OSA).

Fellows are chosen based on several factors, including distinguished contributions to education, research, engineering, business, and serving the optics and photonics community. Click here to see the entire Optica 2024 class.

Jeff Wisoff

Jeff Wisoff was named an Optica fellow “for outstanding technical and program leadership in lasers and inertial confinement fusion in achieving fusion ignition in a laboratory setting.”

Jeff WisoffJeff Wisoff.

He is responsible for ensuring the operation and continuing evolution of NIF as a world-class user facility in support of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)’s Stockpile Stewardship mission while partnering with other LLNL capabilities to establish leadership in Stockpile Stewardship science associated with inertial confinement fusion (ICF) and high energy density physics.

Wisoff oversees the development of advanced laser systems, related optical and target systems, control systems, and systems engineering capabilities in service to the Department of Energy/NNSA, other government agencies, academia, and private industry.

“After leaving NASA, I joined LLNL because it offers the same opportunity to be part of a talented team working on solutions to very hard problems that have national impact,” Wisoff said. “Fusion ignition is a great example of the Laboratory working together with many external partners to reach an amazing achievement.

“At the heart of these endeavors are the incredible people like my colleague Jean-Michel Di Nicola, being recognized with me, and countless others who share the same vision of scientific discovery and national service. How could you have more fun?”

Before joining LLNL in 2001, Wisoff was on the faculty of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rice University. Selected as an astronaut by NASA in January 1990, he is a veteran of four space-shuttle flights. He conducted three spacewalks totaling almost 20 hours that included testing tools for the first Hubble Telescope repair mission, construction of the International Space Station, and the test flight of an astronaut jet pack. He received many honors with NASA, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (2001) and four NASA Space Flight Medals (2000, 1997, 1994 and 1993).

Jean-Michel Di Nicola

Jean-Michel Di Nicola leads NIF’s laser science, performance, and systems engineering efforts across the directorate, including support for NIF and NIF sustainment. He was selected as an Optica fellow “for world-class scientific and engineering contributions in high-energy and high-peak-power laser systems, and key technical leadership at the National Ignition Facility.”

Jean-Michel Di NicolaJean-Michel Di Nicola.

“I came to LLNL with the goal of engaging in grand challenges of science and technology with very talented colleagues who share the same vision and passion for the mission,” Di Nicola said. “I’m so proud of all that we have accomplished—achieving ignition, of course, but also continuing to push the performance of the NIF laser. My favorite speech is ‘We choose to go to the Moon’ by President John F. Kennedy—it speaks so well about what we are doing at LLNL. Consequently, being selected as an Optica fellow with Jeff Wisoff, a real astronaut, is even more of an honor!”

Prior to joining LLNL in 2009, Di Nicola held leadership roles at the French Atomic Energy Commission, Direction of Military Applications (CEA/DAM). He served as the principal investigator in charge of the performance modeling and commissioning of the Laser Integration Line laser, a prototype of the French Laser Mégajoule (LMJ), during a two-year experimental program leading to ground-breaking results and world-record performance of 10 kilojoules of ultraviolet energy on a single beamline.

In 2005, he spent six months as an invited scientist to participate in NIF modeling tasks and laser codes development. In 2007, he was selected as a senior expert in nonlinear optics and laser performance modeling of ICF lasers by CEA/DAM and returned to LLNL to take part in the NIF laser commissioning.

Di Nicola has received two R&D 100 Awards, four LLNL Director’s Science and Technology Awards, four NNSA Defense Programs Awards of Excellence for his contributions to NIF, and the John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research as a member of the NIF Burning Plasma Team. He shares his passion for science by volunteering with middle-school and high-school math and science programs in France and the United States.

More Information:

“Two LLNL Scientists Named Optica Senior Members,” NIF & Photon Science News, August 9, 2023

“Researchers Elected Optica Fellows,” NIF & Photon Science News, November 23, 2022

—Patricia Koning

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