SLAM JUDGES

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Director, Office of Science

Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is the Director of the Office of Science for the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Berhe was most recently a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry; the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology; and Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education at the University of California, Merced. Her research was at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology with an emphasis on how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between the natural environment and human communities.

She previously served as the Chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies; was a Leadership board member for the Earth Science Women’s Network; and is currently a co-principal investigator in the ADVANCEGeo Partnership – a National Science Foundation funded effort to empower (geo)scientists to respond to and prevent harassment, discrimination, bullying and other exclusionary behaviors in research environments. Her scholarship on how physical processes such as erosion, fire, and changes in climate affect the biogeochemical cycling of essential elements in the earth system and her efforts to ensure equity and inclusion of people from all walks of life in the scientific enterprise have received numerous awards and honors. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and a member of the inaugural class of the US National Academies New Voices in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Berhe was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea. She received a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation from the University of Asmara, an M.Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2020 she was named a Great Immigrant, Great American by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


Patricia Falcone

Deputy Director Science & Technology, Lawrence Livermore National Lab

Patricia Falcone is the Deputy Director for Science and Technology at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). She is the principal advocate for the Lab’s science and technology base and oversees the strategic development of the Lab's capabilities. She is responsible for LLNL’s collaborative research with academia and the private sector, as well as its internal investment portfolio.

Falcone joined LLNL in 2015 after six years at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where she served as the Senate-confirmed Associate Director of OSTP for National Security and International Affairs. In that capacity, she led a team that advised on the science and technology dimensions of national security policy deliberations and on federal support of national security research and development.

Earlier, Falcone held technical and management positions at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, including Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, and senior manager for Systems Analysis and Engineering. Her work at Sandia focused on the assessment of new technologies for mission applications and on advanced energy conversion technologies.

Falcone chairs the advisory committee for the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University and the board of trustees of the Georgia Tech Research Corporation. She is a commissioner on the National Commission on Innovation and Competitiveness Frontiers led by the Council on Competitiveness and a member of the Leadership Council of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Falcone earned a B.S.E. in aerospace and mechanical sciences at Princeton University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.

Chi-Chang Kao

Lab Director, SLAC National Lab

SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao, a noted X-ray scientist, came to SLAC in 2010 to serve as associate laboratory director for the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. He became SLAC’s fifth director in November 2012.

Previously, Kao served for five years as chairperson of the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. He undertook major upgrades to the light source's scientific programs and experimental facilities while developing potential science programs for NSLS-II, one of the newest and most advanced synchrotron facilities in the world. His research focuses on X-ray physics, superconductivity, magnetic materials and the properties of materials under high pressure.

Kao earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1980 from National Taiwan University and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1988. He joined Brookhaven shortly afterward, working his way from NSLS postdoctoral research assistant to chair. Kao also served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University.

He was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2006 and was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010 for his many contributions to resonant elastic and inelastic X-ray scattering techniques and their application to materials physics, as well as for his leadership at the NSLS.



Andrew Mcllroy

Integrate Security Solutions Associate Labs Director

Sandia National Lab

As Associate Labs Director (ALD) for Integrated Security Solutions, Andrew McIlroy provides leadership and management direction for Sandia’s California Laboratory, including California weapon systems and component engineering. He also holds primary responsibility for Sandia’s Energy & Homeland Security (E/HS) Portfolio, encompassing activities in California, New Mexico, Texas, Alaska, and beyond.

Previously, as Director of the E/HS Program Management Center and Deputy ALD for Integrated Security Solutions, Andy led business operations for Integrated Security Solutions and managed Sandia’s E/HS Portfolio.

Andy’s Sandia career began in 1991 as a Combustion Research Facility postdoctoral researcher. He joined The Aerospace Corporation in 1993 and returned to Sandia in 1997 as a technical staff member in the Combustion Chemistry and Diagnostics Department. Andy served as Manager for both the Combustion Chemistry and Diagnostics and the Reacting Flows Research

departments, Senior Manager for Chemical Sciences, and Acting Director of the Materials Science Center. As Senior Manager for Livermore Valley Open Campus (LVOC) Development, Andy developed the physical and operational infrastructure for LVOC, a joint initiative of Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to create an accessible, common campus to foster domestic and international partnerships with industry and academia. Andy also created programs to take advantage of the LVOC.

Andy then became Senior Manager for Science-Enabled Engineering and led Verification and Validation for Sandia’s Advanced Simulation and Computing Program. As Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Sandia and Director of Research Strategy and Partnership, Andy led Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program, academic and industrial partnerships, and tech transfer programs.

Andy has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with honors and distinction from Harvey Mudd College and a PhD in chemical physics from the University of Colorado. He cochaired the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Basic Research Needs Workshop for Clean and Efficient Combustion of 21st-Century Transportation Fuels, coordinated the DOE Workshop on Predictive Simulation for Internal Combustion Engines, and has authored 40 peer reviewed journal articles.

Mike Witherell

Lab Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Michael Witherell is a leading physicist with a highly distinguished career in teaching, research and managing complex organizations. He has received numerous honors and recognitions for his scientific contributions and achievements. Witherell is the former director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in northern Illinois and last held the Presidential Chair in Physics at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he was also vice chancellor for research. He was named director of Berkeley Lab by the UC Board of Regents in January, 2016.

Witherell first came to UCSB in 1981 as an assistant professor of physics from Princeton University. Soon after joining UCSB, he led a Fermilab experiment that collected and studied the first large sample of charmed particles observed with a silicon microstrip vertex detector. As a result of that experiment, Witherell was awarded the W. K. H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics from the American Physical Society in 1990.

In 1999 Witherell was appointed director of Fermilab, the DOE laboratory dedicated to high-energy physics. During his six years as director, Fermilab upgraded the Tevatron accelerator complex, the highest-energy collider then operating. The laboratory also completed a $150 million project to build a long-baseline neutrino facility, which sent a beam of neutrinos 450 miles underground to a detector built at the Soudan Underground Laboratory in northern Minnesota.

In 2005 Witherell rejoined the UC Santa Barbara faculty as vice chancellor for research, where he manages research administration and technology commercialization. He also supervises interdisciplinary research institutes in marine science, earth science, neuroscience, social sciences and ethnic studies, in addition to the California Nanosystems Institute and six sites of the UC Natural Reserve System.

In 2010, while continuing as UCSB vice chancellor for research, Witherell returned to conducting research on the nature of dark matter. He joined the LUX collaboration, which completed the most sensitive search for interactions of dark matter particles with normal matter.

Witherell is also part of an international research team that designed the LUX-Zeplin (LZ) project, an experiment that will be three orders of magnitude more sensitive than LUX. In 2014 the LZ project was selected as the largest next-generation dark matter experiment in the DOE’s High Energy Physics program.

Witherell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently chairs the Board on Physics and Astronomy at the National Academies; sits on the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy at the National Academies; is a member of the American Physical Society’s Physics Policy Committee; and, serves on the Board of Directors for Science for Nature and People. Witherell is the 2004 recipient of the Department of Energy Secretary’s Gold Award.

He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1973 and his B.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1968.