Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award


The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award was established in 1959 in honor of a scientist who helped elevate American physics to the status of world leader in the field.

Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award
Certificate and Medal
Ernest Orlando Lawrence Certificate and Medal
Awarded forExcellence in scientific, technical, or engineering achievements related to the missions of the U.S. Department of Energy
Sponsored byDepartment of Energy's Office of Science
CountryUnited States
Presented bySecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy
First awarded1960 (1960)

E. O. Lawrence was the inventor of the cyclotron, an accelerator of subatomic particles, and a 1939 Nobel Laureate in physics for that achievement. The Radiation Laboratory he developed at Berkeley during the 1930s ushered in the era of "big science", in which experiments were no longer done by an individual researcher and a few assistants on the table-top of an academic lab but by large, multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers in entire buildings full of sophisticated equipment and huge scientific machines. During World War II, Lawrence and his accelerators contributed to the Manhattan Project, and he later played a leading role in establishing the U.S. system of national laboratories, two of which (Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore) now bear his name.

Shortly after Lawrence's death in August 1958, John A. McCone, Chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, wrote to President Eisenhower suggesting the establishment of a memorial award in Lawrence's name. President Eisenhower agreed, saying, "Such an award would seem to me to be most fitting, both as a recognition of what he has given to our country and to mankind, and as a means of helping to carry forward his work through inspiring others to dedicate their lives and talents to scientific effort." The first Lawrence Awards were given in 1960.

The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award is bestowed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy to mid-career scientists and engineers in recognition of exceptional scientific, technical, and/or engineering achievements related to the broad missions of the U.S. Department of Energy and its programs. The Lawrence Award is administered by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Each Lawrence Award recipient receives a citation signed by the Secretary of Energy, a gold medal bearing the likeness of Ernest Orlando Lawrence, and a $20,000 honorarium.

Nomination and selection proceduresEdit

The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Awards honor scientists and engineers, at mid-career, showing promise for the future, for exceptional contributions in research and development supporting the U.S. Department of Energy and its mission to advance the national economic and energy security of the United States.

Beginning in 2011, the awards are given annually. One Lawrence Award is given in each of the following eight fields:

  • Atomic, Molecular, and Chemical Sciences
  • Biological and Environmental Sciences
  • Computer, Information, and Knowledge Sciences
  • Condensed Matter and Materials Sciences
  • Energy Science and Innovation
  • Fusion and Plasma Sciences
  • High Energy and Nuclear Physics
  • National Security and Nonproliferation

The objectives of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Awards are:

  • to encourage excellence in energy science and technology;
  • to inspire people to dedicate their lives and talents to scientific and technological effort, through the examples of Ernest O. Lawrence and the Lawrence Award laureates; and
  • to highlight for the general public the accomplishments of the U.S. scientific and technological communities associated with the U.S. Department of Energy.


Eligibility for the Lawrence Award requires that all recipients:

  • be in the middle of their careers, defined as within 20 years of earning their highest degree*;
  • be citizens of the United States;
  • be recognized for achievement in research principally funded by the U.S. Department of Energy; and
  • be assessed primarily on the scientific impact and technical significance of their work relative to its discipline and/or related mission. (Business management and stewardship acumen, while valued, is not a significant qualification factor used when evaluating a nominee's worthiness.)

Nomination materialsEdit

Nomination is made by a letter of justification, curriculum vitae, a statement explaining the nominee's connection to DOE support, a no more than 35 word citation, a bibliography of significant publications, and identifying the award category of the nominee (Atomic, Molecular, and Chemical Sciences; Biological and Environmental Sciences; Computer, Information, and Knowledge Sciences; Condensed Matter and Materials Sciences; Energy Science and Innovation; Fusion and Plasma Sciences; High Energy and Nuclear Physics; or National Security and Nonproliferation). An individual's nomination is limited to a single category.


The nomination materials for all eligible nominees are objectively studied by independent peer review panels, one for each of eight award categories, and if worthy candidate(s) are identified in the peer review, selection recommendations based upon these findings are made by Federal Program Officials. A concurrence request for any awardees is made to the Secretary of Energy, who holds final discretion over any selection(s).

The reviewers are not empanelled as a Federal Advisory Committee. The identity of all nominators, all nominees, and all peer review panelists remain anonymous. DOE employees must comply with regulations governing conduct of employees codified in 10 CFR Part 1010 and Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch at 5 CFR §2635.

Award laureatesEdit









  • Mortimer M. Elkind
  • John M. Googin
  • Allen F. Henry
  • John O. Rasmussen
  • Robert N. Thorn








  • Joseph Cerny
  • Harold Paul Furth
  • Henry C. Honeck
  • Charles A. McDonald
  • Chester R.Richmond



  • A. Philip Bray
  • James W. Cronin
  • Kaye D. Lathrop
  • Adolphus L. Lotts
  • Edwin D. McClanahan












  • John J. Dorning
  • James R. Norris
  • S. Thomas Picraux
  • Wayne J. Shotts
  • Maury Tigner
  • F. Ward Whicker














External linksEdit

  • Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award website