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OU Alumnus Daniel Sinars Receives Prestigious DOE Honor

August 10, 2022

OU Alumnus Daniel Sinars Receives Prestigious DOE Honor

Daniel Sinars
Daniel Sinars (Photo provided by Sandia National Laboratories)

Daniel Sinars, a pulsed-power physicist at Sandia National Laboratories and an OU alumnus, is one of ten recipients of the 2021 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, one of the “longest running and most prestigious science and technology awards bestowed by the U.S. Government.”

Sinars won in the category “National Security and Nonproliferation” for his “pioneering development of seminal X-ray diagnostics and their innovative application to z-pinch implosions that transformed the experimental capabilities on the Z pulsed power facility and enabled novel, record-breaking platforms supporting our nation’s nuclear security.”

Director of the DOE Office of Science Asmeret Asefaw Berhe said, “I am thrilled to recognize these researchers and the significant advances they have contributed to society. Scientists like these individuals are the backbone of DOE and we cannot achieve our mission without them. I’m excited to see what the future holds for them and where they may lead us.” 

The E.O. Lawrence Award was established by the DOE to honor the memory of Ernest Orlando Lawrence, “who invented the cyclotron – an accelerator of subatomic particles – and was named the 1939 Nobel Laureate in Physics for that achievement.” He is also credited with helping to establish the U.S. system of national laboratories. Sinars and the other recipients will be recognized during an awards ceremony on Sept. 22, 2022.

Before joining Sandia National Laboratories and becoming a leading expert in Z pulsed power, Sinars’ introduction to physics research began as a National Merit Scholar at the University of Oklahoma.

“The E.O. Lawrence award is one of the most prestigious awards a mid-career scientist can receive,” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “It is an honor for the University of Oklahoma to have played a role in the development of Dr. Sinars’ success. We can’t wait to see what he does next.”

“In receiving the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award from the Department of Energy, Daniel Sinars demonstrates the intellectual promise the University of Oklahoma’s Honors College aims to instill in all our students,” said Honors College Interim Dean Rich Hamerla. “Curiosity, discipline, intuitiveness, and drive, both at the university and beyond, are core purposes in the Honors College’s mission, and we are delighted to see that these characteristics are evidenced in real life with the recognition Dr. Sinars is awarded with this prestigious prize.”

Through the Honors College at OU, Sinars became a Goldwater Scholar, one of the most prestigious undergraduate STEM-based research scholarships. The College also encouraged him to apply for summer internships, broadening his exposure to undergraduate research opportunities nationwide.

“Between my sophomore and junior year, the Honors College had me apply for a student internship program. I got assigned to go to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where I worked on devices for fusion research and that’s where I got excited about plasma physics,” he said.

The following summer, he gained laboratory experience with thermonuclear fusion.

“The Honors program encouraging me to take these summer internships was actually pretty transformational…That’s how I wound up getting connected to fusion energy research, pulse power technology, and ultimately Sandia National Laboratories,” Sinars said. “My career got off to a great start because of all of those early experiences, and I can’t say enough about the training I got, the classes and the academic preparation.”

Sinars graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics. He received a doctorate in applied physics from Cornell University and joined Sandia National Laboratories in 2011, where he now directs the Pulsed Power Sciences Center.

Read more about Sinars and fellow Sandia National Laboratories scientist Andrew Landahl, recipients of the E.O. Lawrence Award, at