Ernest Orlando Lawrence

Ernest Orlando Lawrence

The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award was established in 1959 in honor of a scientist who helped elevate American physics to world leadership.

E. O. Lawrence was the inventor of the cyclotron, an accelerator of subatomic particles, and a 1939 Nobel Laureate in physics for that achievement. The Radiation Laboratory he developed at Berkeley during the 1930s ushered in the era of "big science," in which experiments were no longer done by an individual researcher and a few assistants on the table-top of an academic lab but by large, multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers in entire buildings full of sophisticated equipment and huge scientific machines. During World War II, Lawrence and his accelerators contributed to the Manhattan Project, and he later played a leading role in establishing the U.S. system of national laboratories, two of which (Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore) now bear his name.

Shortly after Lawrence's death in August 1958, John A. McCone, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, wrote to President Eisenhower suggesting the establishment of a memorial award in Lawrence's name. President Eisenhower agreed, saying, "Such an award would seem to me to be most fitting, both as a recognition of what he has given to our country and to mankind, and as a means of helping to carry forward his work through inspiring others to dedicate their lives and talents to scientific effort." The first Lawrence Awards were given in 1960.

The Lawrence Award honors U.S. scientists and engineers, at mid-career, for exceptional contributions in research and development supporting the Department of Energy and its mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States. The Lawrence Award is given in each of the following eight categories: Atomic, Molecular, and Chemical Sciences; Biological and Environmental Sciences; Computer, Information, and Knowledge Sciences; Condensed Matter and Materials Sciences; Energy Science and Innovation; Fusion and Plasma Sciences; High Energy and Nuclear Physics; and National Security and Nonproliferation. The Lawrence Awards are administered by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Each Lawrence Award category winner receives a citation signed by the Secretary of Energy, a gold medal bearing the likeness of Ernest Orlando Lawrence, and a $20,000 honorarium; if there are co-winners in a category, the honorarium is shared equally.

Last modified: 4/25/2013 10:46:16 AM