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Dunning wins prestigious E.O. Lawrence Award

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March 18, 1997 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. — Dr. Thom H. Dunning Jr. has been named a recipient of the prestigious Department of Energy 1996 E.O. Lawrence Award. Dunning is director of the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, which is located at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Dunning, a theoretical chemist, won in the Chemistry category for his contributions to the development of methods and techniques for electronic structure calculations on molecules. His work in computational chemistry has been key to obtaining accurate solutions of the Schrödinger equations, the mathematical equation that describes the properties of matter in terms of the basic laws of physics. These advances have enabled theoretical chemists to predict the structure, binding energies and properties of molecules at a level of accuracy that otherwise is obtainable only from the most sophisticated experimental approaches.

The award consists of a gold medal, citation and $15,000. Dunning will be honored by the new Secretary of Energy on April 18 in Washington, D.C. There have been 174 E.O. Lawrence Award recipients honored since the award was established in 1960.

The award was established to honor the late Dr. Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron (a particle accelerator) and after whom two major DOE laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore, Calif., are named. The award is one of the oldest and most esteemed science and technology awards given by the government and recognizes exceptional and relatively recent contributions to the development, use or control of nuclear energy, broadly defined to include the science and technology of particle, nuclear, atomic and molecular interactions. The recipients must be active in their careers and show promise for future achievements.

Dunning joined Pacific Northwest in 1989 as associate director for the theory, modeling and simulation program in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. In 1994, he was named director of the Wiley Lab.

At the Wiley Lab, researchers will develop the advanced science and technology necessary to clean up environmental problems at government and industrial sites across the country in an economically viable manner. Research conducted at the $230 million national scientific user facility also is expected to lead to advances in energy, new materials, health and medicine, transportation and agriculture.

Dunning earned a bachelor's degree (1965) in chemistry from the University of Missouri-Rolla and a doctorate (1970) in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

He is an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington and an Adjunct Professor at Washington State University. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific publications, including the citation classic, "Gaussian Basis Sets for Use in Molecular Calculations." He is a member of the American Chemical Society; and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Tags: Energy, Fundamental Science, Chemistry

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