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Sandia Fellow wins fusion award

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories Fellow Keith Matzen at ease in the Z facility he helped create. Matzen received the 2019 Distinguished Career Award by Fusion Power Associates. Courtesy of Randy Montoya

Sandia National Laboratories Fellow Keith Matzen has been honored for his contributions in the field of nuclear fusion.

Fusion Power Associates, a national nonprofit research and educational foundation, honored Matzen with the 2019 Distinguished Career Award, according to a Sandia Labs news release.

Among Matzen’s achievements was converting the Sandia particle-beam fusion bright spotaccelerator to a pulsed-power machine, known as “Z.” The “Z” machine has provided insights into the properties of materials at extreme temperature and pressure conditions.

Matzen recruited and mentored scientists whom he encouraged to innovate and take technical risks, which proved effective in stimulating new ideas.

As director of Sandia’s pulsed-power sciences, Matzen oversaw the refurbishment of “Z,” a $90 million project completed in 2007 on time and on budget.

“For many years at Los Alamos, I knew the name Keith Matzen as being synonymous with pulsed power ICF (inertial confinement fusion). This honor is well deserved, given Keith’s many years of contribution to both ICF and to Sandia,” said Sandia Associate Laboratories Director Susan Seestrom, the labs’ chief research officer.

Matzen grew up in Nebraska and earned a doctorate in molecular kinetic theory from Iowa State University. He was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1997. In 2011, he was presented with the Fusion Power Associates Leadership Award.

He was appointed Sandia Fellow in 2018. Only 15 Sandia employees have achieved that rank in the 70-year history of the laboratories.

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