FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Los Alamos National Laboratory contact:
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA APPOINTS NEW LABORATORY DIRECTOR
The University of California (UC) today (May 6) announced the appointment of Robert W. Kuckuck, a veteran in national laboratory management, a former National Nuclear Security Administration official and a leading expert in nuclear weapons testing and treaty verification technologies, as interim director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. UC President Robert C. Dynes, acting with the approval of US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, appointed Kuckuck interim director, replacing departing director George Peter Nanos.
“Bob Kuckuck has the knowledge and expertise to provide strong leadership for Los Alamos,” said Dynes. “His depth of familiarity with the laboratory, the university, and the missions of both institutions, as well as the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy, makes him an excellent choice for this position.
“Bob’s expertise in nuclear weapons and his fundamental understanding of how strong management and science must coexist in a national laboratory will be invaluable to the ongoing and important work of the lab.”
A nuclear physicist who has taken on a variety of leadership responsibilities up to the highest levels of laboratory management, Kuckuck has extensive experience in the nuclear weapons complex having worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
In his more than 35-year career at LLNL, Kuckuck held a number of management positions at the lab including deputy director of the laboratory from 1994 to 2001. Additional positions at LLNL included Assistant Program Leader, Solid State Lasers from 1975 to1977; Assistant Associate Director for Nuclear Testing from 1977 to 1979; Program Leader for Treaty Verification Research from 1979 to 1981; Deputy Division Leader (diagnostics physics) from 1979 to 1982; Deputy Associate Director for Nuclear Design from 1982 to 1984; and, Associate Director for Nuclear Test and Experimental Science from 1984 to 1991. He began his career at LLNL as an experimental physicist.
From 1992 to 1994, Kuckuck was Special Assistant to the University for Laboratory Management. From 2001 to 2002 Kuckuck was Deputy Administrator at the NNSA having responsibility for internal operations and organization restructuring. After leaving NNSA in December of 2002, Kuckuck was appointed senior advisor in the Office of Laboratory Management working on laboratory oversight issues.
“I am both honored and pleased to serve as director of Los Alamos National Laboratory,” Kuckuck said. “The scientific and programmatic achievements of Los Alamos under UC management have been extraordinary. I look forward to working with these dedicated and capable people, many of whom have been my colleagues over the years.”
Kuckuck received his PhD in Applied Science from the University of California, Davis, his masters in Physics from Ohio State University and did his undergraduate work in Physics at West Liberty State College. In 2003, Kuckuck received the Department of Energy Secretary’s Gold Award. DOE’s highest honor, the award citation by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, recognized Kuckuck for “superior leadership” and for “vision, dedication and commitment to excellence . . . that have directly resulted in the advancement of initiatives that are strengthening the nuclear security of the United States of America.”
Kuckuck is married to the former Marilyn Kiger, and they have three adult daughters.
President Dynes received approval for the interim action from UC Board of Regents Chairman Gerald Parsky and Chairman of the Regents’ Committee on Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories Peter Preuss.
As interim director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Kuckuck will earn $355,800 annually and oversee an operation with a $2.2 billion budget and a work force of approximately 13,500. The director's salary, like that of all other UC employees at the laboratory, is paid from funds derived from the federal DOE contract. No general funds from the state are used to pay the director's salary.
LANL Director Nanos to join US Department of Defense
Nanos served as director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, first as interim and then as permanent director, for more than two years beginning in January of 2003. He is stepping down to take a new position at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency for the US Department of Defense in Washington, DC.
“Pete has done a remarkable job under extraordinary pressures and circumstances these past two years. He has been a stalwart agent of change at the laboratory,” said Dynes. “His determination to move the laboratory forward, along with his commitment to excellence, have resulted in many notable and lasting improvements in virtually all areas of the laboratory’s operations.
“Because of his strong leadership, the nation can be confident that Los Alamos is a stronger, safer and better-managed laboratory today. I wish Pete the best of luck in his new endeavor.”
During his tenure, Director Nanos led Los Alamos National Laboratory through what some, inside and outside the lab, consider an unprecedented period of change, uncertainty and challenge.
In his two years as director, the laboratory completely revamped its business models and procurement systems, overhauled its overhead rates reducing costs associated with scientific research, reshaped the lab’s organizational and management structure to improve performance and productivity, reestablished the nation’s ability to manufacture PITs, took aggressive steps in support of reinvigorating basic and applied scientific research in all areas, restarted waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southern New Mexico, completed a comprehensive waste management agreement with the New Mexico Environmental Department, reenergized the lab’s presence and partnerships with surrounding communities and pueblo governments, restructured and strengthened the lab’s security and emergency response posture, enhanced its involvement in our nation’s scientific and foreign assistance programs abroad, and reengineered its data sharing and information management systems.
During this same period, the laboratory continued to distinguish itself in the fields of basic and applied research, capturing numerous national and international science awards including eight R&D 100 Awards in 2003, eight American Physical Society Awards in 2003, five R&D 100 Awards in 2004 and three E.O. Lawrence Awards from DOE in 2004.
Nanos’ insistence on development of a standardized common set of overarching management principles ultimately led to the adoption of five critical management priorities – safety, security and compliance; national security mission; science in support of the lab’s mission; business management and community partnerships.
Acknowledging his primary responsibility to ensure safety and security of the lab, Nanos suspended all laboratory operations in July of 2004 following a series of safety and security related incidents. He then personally managed and directed one of the most comprehensive and complex restart programs ever conducted within the Department of Energy’s complex.
“It has been a sincere honor to work at this most prestigious laboratory. While there have been many challenges, I believe there have been many more successes, not so much because of what I may have done, but because of the men and women who care so much about this great institution,” said Nanos. “It is they who deserve all the credit for what has been done here and it is they, the laboratory’s staff, who will always have my deepest and most heartfelt respect and admiration.
“There is no other place that equals Los Alamos. I believe the lab’s finest hour, with the University’s strong leadership, lies before it.”
As part of ongoing competition preparations, the University of California is conducting a thorough review of potential senior management team members. The University is looking at a full range of candidates, including the incumbents. Only after the final request for proposals has been released by the DOE will the University know DOE's specifications for the senior management team.
The University of California manages three national laboratories on behalf of the Department of Energy. Today, Livermore and Los Alamos laboratories each employ more then 8,000 UC staff and have combined annual operating budgets exceeding $3.5 billion, while Berkeley Lab has approximately 4,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $500 million.
The laboratories are major sources of scientific and technical strength for the nation in fields ranging from national security to basic physics, biotechnology, climate studies, computer development, materials science, energy, and the environment. The laboratories contribute to the country's economic competitiveness through research partnerships with industry and engage in math and science education for students and teachers at all levels.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.
Los Alamos develops and applies science and technology to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism; and solve national problems in defense, energy, environment and infrastructure.
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