LLNL physicist receives award for science and engineering

A physicist with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently received a science and engineering award from the White House for his work on managing the nation's nuclear deterrent, LLNL said on Monday.

Miguel Morales received a 2014 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering for his research in condensed matter physics. Morales studies materials at extreme temperature and pressure on some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. His work is important to stockpile stewardship, a program with the National Nuclear Security Administration that ensures the reliability, safety and security of the nation's nuclear deterrent without using underground testing.

Morales was one of 13 recipients of the award from the U.S. Department of Energy, and one of 102 overall recipients. Awardees receive a stipend distributed over five years of as much as $50,000 annually.

The early career presidential awards represent the highest honor given by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Morales, a native of Puerto Rico, discovered his passion for science as a 16-year-old after a devastating hurricane.

"After the hurricane we spent a month without electricity and water," Morales said. "I started reading about Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein in an encyclopedia of science. I had no exposure to science before that and I was fascinated. I started buying and reading books about science and I became obsessed with math as well. I knew then that I would devote my life to science."

In an announcement issued by the White House, President Obama praised the scientists for their commitment to technological advancement.

"The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead," Obama said. "We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America's global leadership for many years to come."