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News Release
January 9, 1996
Sandia Scientist Receives DOE Distinguished Associate Award

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Sandia scientist Ken Wilson has received a Department of Energy Distinguished Associate award for his pioneering work in fusion research.

Wilson has been studying the interaction of materials with magnetic fusion plasmas - hot, ionized gases - since arriving at Sandia in 1974 with a Ph.D. in material science from Cornell University. He currently manages the Surface Chemistry Department and the Magnetic Fusion Energy program at Sandia. He is also a U.S. Home Team manager for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a proposed next-generation fusion energy device.

"The award is really a recognition of Sandia's program in plasma-material interaction," Wilson said. "Sandia became world-recognized as a leader in this area of research."

Sandia has developed materials that resist plasma degradation and have been used in fusion energy devices around the world. Sandia has also developed improved ways to remove heat from reactor vessels in which hot plasmas are contained by magnetic fields. Magnetic fusion creates energy by fusing light nuclei into heavier atoms in a process similar to the reaction that powers the sun.

"In magnetic fusion," Wilson said, "the plasma slowly leaks through the magnetic ‘bottle' and reacts with the walls of the vessel. This affects both the fusion reaction in the plasma and the lifetime of the walls of the vessel."

Approved and signed by Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary, the citation was presented by Anne Davies, Associate Director for Fusion Energy, at a Dec. 11, 1996 ceremony in Germantown, Md. It reads: "For your pioneering research on the interactions of energetic plasmas with materials, application of this research to magnetic fusion plasmas and leadership in design and R&D for critical In-Vessel components and systems for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor."

The award is the highest non-monetary award for employees of DOE-owned, contractor-operated facilities. Winners must be nominated by DOE program managers and cannot apply for the honor. Wilson is the fifth Sandian to receive a DOE Distinguished Associate award. His manager, T. Michal Dyer, Director of the Materials and Engineering Sciences Center, commented, "I believe that this is quite an honor both for Ken and Sandia. The awards are quite rare. The award reflects Ken's technical leadership in the area, and customer satisfaction with the job he's doing."

Sandia is a multiprogram Department of Energy laboratory, operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national defense, energy, environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy.
Media contact:
Nancy Garcia, , Sandia/California Public Affairs, Nancy_Garcia@Sandia.gov (510) 294-2932

Technical contact:
Ken Wilson, klwilso@sandia.gov (510) 294-2497, (510) 294-2311

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