Public Release: 

President Obama names scientists Pellegrini and Shank as 2014 Enrico Fermi Award recipients

DOE/US Department of Energy

WASHINGTON - President Obama has named Dr. Claudio Pellegrini and Dr. Charles V. (Chuck) Shank as recipients of the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the government's oldest and most prestigious awards for scientific achievement. The Presidential award carries an honorarium of $50,000, shared equally, and a medal. The award is administered on behalf of the White House by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"Claudio Pellegrini and Chuck Shank have advanced scientific research at the Department of Energy and the national laboratories throughout their distinguished careers, which has significantly contributed to sustained leadership in research and development in the United States," said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. "I congratulate them for their achievements and hope that the example they set will inspire future generations of scientists and engineers."

The Fermi Award honors the memory of Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, the first scientist to achieve a nuclear chain reaction and a pioneer in the field of nuclear and particle physics. The award has been presented to outstanding scientists since 1956. It is given for distinguished achievement, leadership, and service related to all basic and applied research, science, and technology supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and its programs.

2014 Enrico Fermi Award Winners:

Dr. Claudio Pellegrini

Distinguished Professor of Physics, emeritus, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

For pioneering research advancing understanding of relativistic electron beams and free-electron lasers, and for transformative discoveries profoundly impacting the successful development of the first hard x-ray free-electron laser, heralding a new era for science.

Honored for his impactful contributions to relativistic beams, and specifically, his critical role in establishing the concept of self-amplified spontaneous emission (SASE), and through this insight and persistence, its realization as the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (LCLS), the world's first hard X-ray free electron laser (XFEL). This instrument, with femtosecond pulses that are a billion times brighter than storage ring based synchrotron light sources, has enabled new areas of ultrafast x-ray physics, atomic physics, plasma physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science, adding the dimension of x-ray atomic-scale imaging to attosecond time-resolved measurements. XFELs are now being realized in Asia and Europe, transforming the nature of X-ray facilities available world-wide.

Dr. Charles V. (Chuck) Shank

Senior Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Laboratory Director, emeritus, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

For the seminal development of ultrafast lasers and their application in many areas of scientific research, for visionary leadership of national scientific and engineering research communities, and for exemplary service supporting the National Laboratory complex.

Honored for his seminal contributions to ultrafast science and energy research, his leadership of national scientific and engineering communities, and his service advancing the National Laboratories. Being widely acknowledged as the founder of the field of ultrafast science, as a scientist, and then manager at Bell Laboratories, Shank built this field from the early days of picosecond spectroscopy to the dawn of ultrafast x-ray light sources. He not only invented many of the methods and lasers, he also discovered and developed many of their applications in chemistry and materials science. As Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he worked energetically to launch the DOE Joint Genome Institute, which successfully decoded three human chromosomes in the Human Genome project; developed the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, an Office of Science user facility supercomputing center; pioneered new applications for the Advanced Light Source; and created the Molecular Foundry, an Office of Science nanoscience user facility.


Additional information about the Fermi Award is available at:

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