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Thursday, June 20, 2019 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.


We live in a world subject to threats, and for more than 65 years Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has worked to strengthen our national security to make the world a safer place. LLNL applies world-class science, technology and engineering that enhances the nation’s defense, reduces the global threat from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and responds with vision, quality, integrity and technical excellence to scientific issues of national importance.

As a physicist at LLNL, I’ve had an opportunity to work on a number of projects that aim to keep our nation safe. These projects range from post-detonation forensics to provide answers if a nuclear detonation in the United States were to occur, to the development and testing of a technology to prevent another industrial disaster such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to asteroid hazard mitigation that prepares us for low probability but potentially high consequence threats from asteroid impacts. These projects share the commonality that all focus on issues related to national security. Each project requires a unique application of a variety of physics and engineering skills that include, but are not limited to, computational/simulation physics, experimental design and execution, and theoretical and analytic model development. In this talk, I discuss this subset of projects, and give an overview of the technological challenges and achievements involved in their successful execution.

This work performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344.  LLNL-ABS-774270


Kirsten Howley, Ph.D.

Kirsten Howley is a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). She works on issues pertaining to national security, including planetary defense. Her work involves deriving analytic equations and leveraging large-scale computing systems (supercomputers) to simulate asteroid deflection scenarios, with a focus on the effectiveness of standoff nuclear explosions to alter the speed – and thus orbital timing – of potential threats.

In addition to her planetary defense work, she is involved in modeling and executing hydrodynamic experiments important to assessing the safety, security and effectiveness of explosive devices related to national security.

Kirsten holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in astronomy and astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz, and a B.A. in physics and astrophysics from UC Berkeley, where she was an active member of University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UCLEADS) program and a member of Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), respectively. She joined LLNL as a graduate student summer intern in 2007, worked as a postdoc and was hired onto the staff in 2013. She was the first of what has become numerous staff members who got their start at LLNL as postdocs and graduate interns conducting planetary defense research.

Benjamin T. Grover

Benjamin (Benjy) Grover is currently the Acting Division Leader for the Design Physics Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).  He primarily oversees the recruiting, hiring, staffing, training and operations of roughly 220 physicists and engineers that support the Nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. 

Previous to this role Benjy served as a Division Leader in the Computation Directorate at LLNL and the Director of IT for the Weapons Program. There, he led a diverse staff of 150 computing professionals as and championed initiatives in recruiting and retention.  One of his key achievements was founding an industry/university partnership to match senior capstone projects with industry partners.  He also organized a triannual Computation-wide “Hackathon” allowing staff to collaborate on innovative projects.

In 2011, Benjy was on a temporary assignment from LLNL at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) in Germantown, MD.  His assignment focused on industrial outreach and business development for ASCR via the SBIR/STTR program. Benjy has also had roles as a Deputy Division Leader for the Applications, Simulations and Quality Division at LLNL. He worked as a computer scientist/software developer on large-scale IT projects and software development projects.  He graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Brigham Young University. He holds a United States Patent (#7,339,584) for a 2D finite-element mesh generation algorithm. 

In his free time, Benjy enjoys running and biking outdoors and spending time with his wife and 4 children.  He volunteers as a scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop and at his church.  He has also served as a Transportation Commissioner on his city’s Transportation Advisory Commission.

Following this talk, there will be an open discussion with the current acting Design Physics division leader, Benjamin Grover, on the qualifications and experience we look for in our recruits. During this discussion we will provide feedback on preparing a CV and for interviewing at LLNL. Pizza will be provided.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is actively looking to grow and expand its pool of scientific experts. We have positions available ranging from summer internships, to graduate student scholars, to postdoctoral fellowships, to staff appointments.

It is UCF's understanding that although some of their jobs are be restricted to US citizens, LLNL also has many positions that are open to citizens of other countries.




Benjamin T. Grover


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