News Updates

2024 News Updates

Michael Pokornik won the "Best Poster" award at SSAP Symposium

February  2024

At the 2024 Stewardship Science Academic Programs (SSAP) Symposium, graduate student, Michael Pokornik, was awarded the coveted prize of “Best Poster” through a highly competitive process. The SSAP symposium was held in Washington, DC, on February 21-22, 2024. The Ph.D. students in attendance presented 132 posters, of which 55 were on the topic of High Energy Density Physics. This award marks the second time in which Michael has won the “Best Poster” prize at the SSAP Symposium, having previously won the prestigious award in 2023.


Michael applied his knowledge of machine learning to Thomson scattering analysis of an experimental campaign to study collisionless shocks produced in the laboratory. The study of collisionless shocks is extremely important to understanding astrophysical systems and the acceleration of cosmic rays. His research is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Center of Excellence on Matter Under Extreme Conditions (CMEC), led by UC San Diego.

2023 News Updates

Sarah Stewart Named American Physical Society Fellow for Research on Evolution of Planetary Systems

October 2023

For her landmark work in the development and application of shock physics techniques to explain the origin and evolution of planetary systems, Sarah Stewart has been selected as an American Physical Society Fellow. The prestigious honor is one that no more than half of one percent of the society’s membership (excluding student members) are nominated for each year. Read the full article.

September 2023

Alex Li, an LLNL summer student in the Computational Chemistry and Materials Science Summer Institute, recently led a study to investigate the evolution of plasticity in diamond. The nature of this deformation is important for high energy density experiments on high-energy laser systems such as NIF, as well as for furthering scientific understanding of carbon-rich exoplanets. Read the full article.

January 2023

Farhat Beg, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego and a renowned high energy density science expert, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Shao-Chi and Lily Lin Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Engineering Science.

The Lin Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Engineering Science was established with a $1 million gift from Lily Lin in honor of her late husband, Jacobs School of Engineering Professor Emeritus Shao-Chi Lin, to support the teaching, research and service activities of a distinguished faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. An additional $500,000 matching endowment was created as a part of the Chancellor’s Endowed Chair Challenge.  Read full announcement.

2022 News Updates

January 2022

We are pleased and excited to announce that, as of October 25, 2021, the Flash Center for Computational Science officially moved from the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Chicago to the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Rochester. 

The Flash Center is home to several cross-disciplinary computational physics research projects, anchored by the development and stewardship of the FLASH code, the publicly available high-performance computing, multi-physics simulation code that the center will continue to distribute from the University of Rochester. FLASH, developed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program, is employed by a wide international userbase, more than 3,500 scientists strong, for modeling and simulation in a broad range of application domains that span from plasma physics and astrophysics to computational fluid dynamics, high energy density physics (HEDP), and fusion energy research.  Read full announcement.

Perspective Article on ENLACE Program in ACS Omega: Building Compassion and Human Bridges through Research Collaborations

January 2022

Our ENLACE binational summer research program was established with the aim of encouraging the participation of high school and college students in research in the sciences and engineering, while promoting cross-border friendships between the United States and Mexico. The program unites students around science and engineering questions and concurrently engages them in a rich curriculum that promotes understanding of broader societal issues of equity, inclusion, tolerance, and social justice. Because we built our program around hope and cooperation, it is our aspiration and promise that walls and borders─all kinds of walls and borders─can be eradicated through kindness, compassion, and respect for others. ENLACE is not just a program we organize every summer, it is also a program that defines who we are as people and the kind of contribution we want to make in the world.

Authors: Olivia A. Graeve, Jorge A. Arróyave García de la Cadena, and Aranza S. Martínez López
ACS Omega 2022, 7, 2, 1542–1546
Publication Date: January 6, 2022

2021 News Updates

CMEC Funded Paper Makes Cover of the Journal of Applied Physics

August  2021

CMEC Co-I, Marc Meyer's paper “The role of pre-existing defects in shock-generated ejecta in copper” was featured on the cover of  Journal of Applied Physics.

Authors: R. M. Flanagan, M. A. Meyers, and S. J. Fensin
Volume 130, Issue 7, 21 Aug. 2021J. Appl. Phys. 130, 075101 (2021);
JAP cover.pdf

January 12, 2021

Gaia Righi, Ph.D. candidate from UC San Diego, collaborates with Hye-Sook Park and Rob Rudd from LLNL.  Her advisor is Marc Meyers. The team was awarded an ACT-UP award last year for their project titled, "Dynamic Strength of Iron Under Phase Changing Conditions".

2020 News Updates

July 27, 2020

Christoph Niemann, professor of physics and UCLA collaborator,  has been awarded the 2020 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research. 

Citation: "For generating Weibel-mediated collisionless shocks in the laboratory, impacting a broad range of energetic astrophysical scenarios, plasma physics, and experiments using high energy and high power lasers conducted at basic plasma science facilities."

July 22, 2020

Warren Mori, professor of physics and UCLA site lead,  has been awarded the 2020 APS Maxwell Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of plasma physics. 

Citation: "For leadership in and pioneering contributions to the theory and kinetic simulations of nonlinear processes in plasma-based acceleration, and relativistically intense laser and beam plasma interactions."

Grad Student, Shu Zhang, Wins Best Poster at SSAP Symposium

February 26-27, 2020

Shu Zhang, graduate student at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Center of Energy Research won one of the best poster awards at the 2020 Stewardship Science Academic Program symposium held in Washington DC from February 26-27. One hundred and twenty students presented posters. Shu’s best poster award was on his work on shock ignition of Inertial Confinement fusion with a title "Pump-Depletion Dynamics and Saturation of Stimulated Brillouin Scattering in Shock Ignition Relevant Experiments".  He carried out his thesis work at the Omega laser at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Shu has been advised by Professor Beg of University of California San Diego and Dr. Mingsheng Wei of LLE. See the NNSA PDF report below for more. 

2020-03 SST V2 N1.pdf

February 19-20, 2020

View the presentation and learn more.

2019 News Updates

University of Chicago Collaborator, Petros Tzeferacos, Receives 2019 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research


Petros Tzeferacos, professor of physics and U of C collaborator,  has been awarded the 2019 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research. 

Citation: "For innovative experiments that demonstrate turbulent dynamo in the laboratory, establishing laboratory experiments as a component in the study of turbulent magnetized plasmas, and opening a new path to laboratory investigations of other astrophysical processes."

March 18, 2019

The Earth and Moon are like identical twins, made up of the exact same materials -- which is really strange, since no other celestial bodies we know of share this kind of chemical relationship. What's responsible for this special connection? Looking for an answer, planetary scientist and MacArthur "Genius" Sarah T. Stewart discovered a new kind of astronomical object -- a synestia -- and a new way to solve the mystery of the Moon's origin.

February 19-20, 2019

View the presentation and learn more.

January 22, 2019

The UC Santa Cruz team published an article describing wave patterns created within Saturn's rings by the planet's internal vibrations. They explain that Saturn's distinctive rings were observed in unprecedented detail by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, and scientists have now used those observations to probe the interior of the giant planet and obtain the first precise determination of its rotation rate. The length of a day on Saturn, according to their calculations, is 10 hours 33 minutes and 38 seconds. Their findings were also highlighted in a UC News Letter.  Read more.

2018 News Updates

December 3, 2018

A team led by Center for Energy Research scientists Chris McGuffey, Joohwan Kim, and Prof. Farhat Beg have shown that proton beams, which are well-studied products of intense lasers, can locally heat a gold sample to over 35 eV, or 400,000 degrees. But, surprisingly, the heating strongly depended on what material was in front of the gold, suggesting that the energy lost by the beam in the hot materials is far different from what existing cold models predict. The experiment was carried out at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Trident Laser at Los Alamos National Laboratory with collaborators at Trident, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, General Atomics, the University of Alberta, and the Ohio State University. The work is described in an article published today in Nature’s online journal Scientific Reports.

Four researchers at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general science organization in the United States and publisher of the journal Science.

Farhat Beg, Rajesh Gupta, Pavel Pevzner and Liangfang Zhang join a total of 416 AAAS members that have been awarded this honor because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will recognized during a ceremony Saturday, Feb. 16, from 8 to 10 a.m. Eastern Time at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. This year’s AAAS Fellows also will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science Nov. 29, 2018.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has designated four new Centers of Excellence at universities across the nation as part of the Stewardship Science Academic Alliances (SSAA) Program. 

The four new centers bring the total number of SSAA Centers of Excellence to eight. The centers enrich graduate education and training while also facilitating interactions between NNSA National Laboratory scientists and emerging leaders in academia.

“These cooperative agreements strengthen the Nuclear Security Enterprise by advancing areas of science relevant to the stockpile stewardship mission and ensuring a pipeline of future scientists to carry out that mission,” said Dr. Kathleen Alexander, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation in NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs.

The University of California San Diego will receive $10.5 million over 5 years to manage the Center for Matter under Extreme Conditions. Dr. Farhat Beg will lead research and technological breakthroughs in high-energy density physics while training graduate students at the participating campuses and NNSA National Laboratories. The work will have an emphasis on creation and diagnosis of extreme states of matter—both magnetized and unmagnetized—utilizing computer modeling and experiments to develop a better understanding of high-energy density systems.

Sarah Stewart is a planetary scientist shedding light on planet formation and evolution. Through a combination of shock physics experiments on natural materials (such as ice and rock), theoretical models, and computational simulations, Stewart investigates the effects of high-energy impacts onto planets and planet-like bodies. For example, using ice impact experiments, she demonstrated that the presence of subsurface ice significantly and predictably affects the shape of an impact crater, such that the shapes of craters on planets such as Mars can reveal much about their subsurface composition.

Most notably, Stewart has advanced a novel explanation for how the Moon was formed. It had been widely accepted that the moon was formed from the debris of an object that collided with the proto-Earth. Recent geochemical studies, however, show that the chemical composition of the Moon is very similar to that of the Earth—that is, the Moon is made up primarily of terrestrial materials rather than materials from the impacting celestial body. Stewart and her colleagues have discovered an entirely new astrophysical object, called a synestia, in seeking to resolve this discrepancy. A synestia is a donut-shaped cloud of vaporized and molten rock produced when two objects collide in a high-energy, high-angular momentum impact. The Earth and Moon both formed from one large synestia, produced by such a collision, cooled and condensed. The synestia theory could explain both the similarity in the elemental and chemical compositions of the Earth and Moon as well as heretofore unexplained features in the Moon’s orbit.

The synestia structure could be a common outcome of collisions during planetary growth and thus hold broader implications for understanding the evolution of other planets. With the ever-growing number of exoplanet discoveries and missions to other planets, Stewart will play a critical role in providing a firmer and more comprehensive basis for understanding planet formation and the resulting physical, geological, and geochemical features of planets.