Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
National Security Directorate

News Highlights

IEEE contest winner

Winner of IEEE International Data Visualization Contest

Our very own Dustin Arendt and Yanina Levitskaia's contest submission on Gender Discrepancies in Engineering and Computer Science was selected as overall winner for the IEEE VGP international data visualization contest.

Arendt and Levitskaia's work focuses on leveraging a new technique called "storyline visualization" to convey patterns and trends within datasets, using storylines to illustrate "common paths" hidden within the data. The visualization provides a more effective way to see the relationships between the common paths of interest in, and to trace the flow between groups over time.

Four years and counting...

For the past four years, PNNL has provided technical leadership and coordination at the Science of Multi-INT Workshop (SOMI). SOMI is sponsored by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the Advanced Systems and Technology Directorate (AS&T). Nearly 350 people participated in the September 2015 conference that was held in Chantilly, VA.

As leaders of the SOMI Program Committee, PNNL works with senior government stakeholders as well as key technical leaders at MITRE, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Naval Postgraduate School, IBM, Northrup Grumman and others. In addition to providing support for the annual SOMI Workshop, PNNL also plays a leadership role in many of the working groups and other year-round activities associated with the community of interest.

Nobel-Winning Research Contributions

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 was awarded jointly to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald "for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass."

Several researchers at PNNL played a role in the scientific work that led to the recent award of the Nobel Prize for Physics. Arthur McDonald of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada conducted the work that won the Nobel Prize, where he oversaw hundreds of researchers from many other institutions including Brent VanDevender, Andrew Hime, Dick Kouzes, John Orrell, and Bryan Fulsom.

Thanks to the hard work of this team and others at PNNL, our impact in the exciting fields of physics continues to grow rapidly.

Mark Greaves

Greaves Joins Editorial Board

Mark Greaves has joined the Editorial Board of the Journal of Web Semantics for a three-year term. Mark was selected because of his expertise in artificial intelligence and knowledge systems, as well as his long involvement in the development of the RDF and OWL web markup languages for ontological and taxonomic information. The Journal of Web Semantics is the leading journal for research and applications which contribute to the development of a knowledge-intensive and intelligent service web.


Working Toward a Resilient Nation

Ann Lesperance and Steve Stein were recently invited to participate in the National Academy of Science's Resilient America Roundtable discussion held in Seattle.

Concerned about the nation's increasing vulnerability to disasters, eight federal agencies and community resilience groups have asked the NAS to examine ways to increase disaster resilience in the U.S.

Seattle is one of the four cities selected to be part of a pilot project to develop the scope of activities and next steps. Ann has been invited to be a member of the pilot, which will focus on climate adaptation, equity, and rapid economic growth.

Cyber-physical Security Tool Receives Patent

PNNL's Physical and Cyber Risk Analysis Tool, PACRAT, was recently granted a U.S. Patent for its blended approach to physical and cyber security assessments. PACRAT was develop by staff across NSD, namely Samuel Clements, William Hutton, Mary Lancaster, Douglas MacDonald, George Muller, Scott Patrick and Casey Perkins, as well as Bradley Robert Key of Vencore. The technology is a next-generation assessment tool for modern integrated security systems that provides an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the overall security strategy, while considering system-level interaction and interdependencies.

Resilient Cyber Systems

Taking Action for Resilient Cyber Systems

Action Recommendation for Cyber Resilience, a PNNL-led team of computer scientists and mathematicians from the PCSD and NSD sectors showcase the advantages of using a graph-based approach for reasoning about computing system resiliency. Their work aims to mitigate targeted cyber-attacks that can disastrously impede proper operations of computing services and systems. The work will be featured as both a workshop paper and demonstration at the 22nd ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, where the demo will model the cyber enterprise of a fictional small e-commerce company in both a software simulation and inside the Amazon Cloud.

Pink Elephant Unicorn Event

Second Annual Pink Elephant Unicorn Event

PNNL and CBC joined forces to fight cybersecurity at the second annual Pink Elephant Unicorn (PEUx2) event, held in July at PNNL. PEU is designed to bring experts and novices side-by-side in teams to solve cyber puzzles and challenges that fall within a variety of cybersecurity categories. This year, PEUx2 grew to over 80 applicants, an almost 100% increase from the inaugural event last summer. The event and its success were recently featured in the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.

National Security Seminar Series

National Security Seminar Series Counts Its Success

The 2015 National Security Seminar Series has closed out another year and launched the 2015 season. The seminar series that was designed to support professional development, broaden networks, and create opportunities for its participants, is holding true to its mission – the number of success stories coming from the FY 2015 National Security Seminar is staggering.

ngfp photo

NGFP Fellows featured in DNN newsletter

The latest issue of the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) Sentinel newsletter is now available and highlights the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP), which is administered by PNNL. The issue shares information about how the program is developing the next generation of nuclear security experts and also features a profile on an NGFP alumna who is now the Director of Nuclear Energy Policy within the Office of International Economics on the National Security Council in the White House. The newsletter is available online. Learn more about NGFP.

First Responders report

Health Sensors Aid in Situational Awareness for First Responders

PNNL Scientist Dr. Thomas Sanquist is researching the state of the art in wearable physiological health sensors and how analytics capabilities can use the resulting data to benefit first responder operations. The results of Dr. Sanquist's research are reported in "Remote Physiological Health and Status Monitoring of First Responders: Promises, Practicalities and Prospects" [pdf]. This research is part of the Responder Technology Alliance, established by Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's First Responders Group to bring together first responders, industry, federal agencies, research institutions, investors, and academia to focus resources on difficult long-term technology challenges and develop a practical vision of the Responder of the Future.

Mark Schanfein award

For He's a Jolly Good Fellow

Mark Schanfein was recently awarded the grade of Fellow of the Institute of Nuclear Material Management (INMM). This is the highest grade of membership in the institute and was given in recognition of Mark's sustained leadership and commitment to the field.



Cybersecurity conference

Computer Security in a Nuclear World

PNNL was integral in the success of the International Atomic Energy Agency's first ever international conference on cybersecurity, Computer Security in a Nuclear World, held from June 1-5 in Vienna, Austria. The conference provided a global forum for information exchange and allowed PNNL the unique opportunity to showcase a range of capabilities and inform relevant science policy.

Just a few of PNNL's many contributions include development of a common structure for all conference documentation, abstracts, and presentations, as well as five e-poster presentations and four technical session presentations on topics ranging from Computer Security eLearning to Threat Awareness Information Sharing. PNNL’s miniaturized nuclear facility mode l showcasing a blended cyber-physical attack also garnered a ton of interest at the NNSA booth each day.

Kurt Silvers

PNNL Fitzner Eberhardt Award

For his outstanding contributions and impact to science and engineering education, Kurt Silvers of the Electronics and Measurement Systems group was one of only two staff members to be awarded the prestigious 2015 Fitzner-Eberhardt Laboratory Director’s Award. Kurt has a remarkable passion and understanding for STEM education and has shown a great dedication toward providing mentorships and implementing STEM concepts at PNNL and throughout the community. Kurt utilizes his knowledge of STEM education and extensive project management experience to integrate traditional and non-traditional STEM curriculum into elementary schools, where it has not commonly been seen.

Physical and Cyber Risk Analysis Tool Awarded Patent

PNNL's Physical and Cyber Risk Analysis Tool, PACRAT, was recently granted a U.S. Patent for its blended approach to physical and cyber security assessments. PACRAT was developed by staff across NSD, namely Samuel Clements, William Hutton, Mary Lancaster, Douglas MacDonald, George Muller, Scott Patrick and Casey Perkins, as well as Bradley Robert Key of Vencore. The technology is a next-generation assessment tool for modern integrated security systems that provides an accurate and comprehensive assessment of the overall security strategy, while considering system-level interactions and interdependencies.


RFID Tracks Radioactive Sources in Oil Industry

PNNL has begun piloting a system to wirelessly and automatically track radioactive sources in well logging. Wire-line well logging requires the use of radioactive sources to characterize a well and predict its ability to produce oil or gas. The transport of radioactive sources to wells creates security vulnerabilities during fuel stops or while the transport vehicle is parked overnight.

The Mobile Source Transit Security System (MSTS), developed by staff members in the Electronics & Measurement Systems and Software Engineering & Architectures groups, features an active tag (eTag) and a wired radioactive sensor (rTag) that provide easily accessible data to drivers and engineers in order to locate radioactive material and identify any changes in radiation levels surrounding the sources. This work this was recently featured in the RFID Journal.

R&D 100 Finalists

R&D 100 Finalists

Congratulations to two NSD teams as they are among 6 finalist teams from PNNL for the R&D 100 Award. The two project teams are Columnar Hierarchical Auto-associative Memory Processing in Ontological Network (CHAMPION) and Power Model Integrator (PMI). CHAMPION is an advanced reasoning software system that enables threat detection in near-real-time. PMI can reduce electricity generation and transmission costs with sophisticated statistical analysis that combines energy-forecasting models to best predict energy needs.

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony that will be held in Las Vegas in November. For more information regarding these finalists and others please visit the R&D 100 Award website.


John Orrell

Meet the New NWAPS Vice-Chair

John Orrell, RDNS, was recently elected to the chair line of the Northwest Section of the American Physical Society (NWAPS). NWAPS represents over 1400 professional physicists in the northwest U.S. and western Canada and is the only international section of the APS. Starting as Vice-Chair, John will progress through four years as Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past-Chair, being the Program Chair for the section's 2017 meeting and Chairing the 2018 meeting. John just finished a three year term as the section's Secretary-Treasurer when elected to the Chair line.

To learn more about the program visit

NGFP class

Welcome NGFP Class of 2015!

The incoming class of 38 Fellows for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) recently completed a week-and-half orientation here in Richland, and at NNSA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Featured guest speakers included Rear Admiral Randall Hendrickson, NNSA Associate Administrator for Management and Budget; and Frank Lowery, NNSA Deputy Associate Administrator for Management and Budget. Fellows participated in-depth briefings as well as historical and technical tours at PNNL and the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford Site, hands-on demonstrations, networking events, and a mock Congressional hearing. Fellows will now deploy to their year-long assignments, gaining hands-on experience and professional development to grow as future leaders for nuclear security and nonproliferation.

To learn more about the program visit the NGFP website.

Highlights archive >>

National Security Directorate