UC Davis alumna Kim Budil, incoming director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (Courtesy)

Ph.D. Alumna to Lead Livermore Lab

by | Feb 1, 2021 | Alumni Achievers, Technology

Kim Budil, Ph.D. ’94, whose career at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory spans 34 years, starting as a graduate student and progressing to postdoc after she received her Ph.D. in engineering/applied science from UC Davis, has been named the lab’s 13th director.

She is the first woman to hold the post since the lab’s founding in 1952 by UC scientists Ernest O. Lawrence and Edward Teller, the latter of whom also founded UC Davis’ Department of Applied Science. The lab came into existence at the height of the Cold War to meet urgent national security needs by advancing nuclear weapons science and technology.

As lab director, Budil also will serve as president of Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, which manages the lab for the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration. UC is a member of the management consortium with Bechtel, the largest project management contractor in the United States, and BWXT Government Group Inc. and Amentum, the Department of Energy’s top nuclear facilities contractors.

Lab and UC assignments

Budil joined the lab as a graduate student in laser programs in 1987 after receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago that year. She worked in programs as a postdoc and has had a broad range of assignments since then. Over her career she has held roles of increasing management responsibility across lab programs, including Global Security, National Ignition Facility, Physical and Life Sciences, and Weapons and Complex Integration, where she serves now as principal associate director.

She also has served in the UC administration, as vice president for national laboratories, responsible for the governance and oversight of the Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos national laboratories, as well as the development of strategic partnerships among the 10 UC campuses and the laboratories.

She has published extensively in scientific and programmatic contexts and participated in numerous professional and community outreach activities.

‘Respected and trusted scientist’

Charlene Zettel, chair of Lawrence Livermore National Security, announced Budil’s appointment Jan. 28. She succeeds Bill Goldstein, who announced his plans to step down last July pending the successful search for his successor.

Appointed with the concurrence of the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, Budil is due to begin her new role on March 2. As the director, she will set the strategic vision for the laboratory and exercise broad delegated powers to ensure successful execution of programs and operations to advance science and technology for the nation and to maintain an outstanding and diverse workforce.

The director leads the development and implementation of the laboratory’s scientific vision, goals and objectives, and serves as the laboratory’s highest-level liaison with the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, the LLNS Board of Governors, the University of California and other government, public and private organizations.

“Kim has proven scientific leadership and senior management experience across a broad range of laboratory programs,” Zettel said. “Her passion and commitment to the lab’s mission and people, and her ability to strategically manage the breadth of Livermore’s science and technology capabilities and operations will serve the lab, its people and the nation well.

“She is a respected and trusted scientist among laboratory managers and employees and with the DOE, NNSA, UC and other key government sponsors and academic and industrial partners.”

Annual report for the president

A unique responsibility of the LLNL director, shared with the directors of Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, is to provide the U.S. president, through the secretaries of Energy and Defense, an annual technical assessment of the state of the nuclear weapons stockpile including its safety, security and effectiveness, the state of the scientific capabilities that underwrite it and whether confidence in the stockpile can be maintained without a nuclear test.

“I am deeply honored to take on the role of laboratory director,” Budil said. “Our lab has a storied history and continues this spirit of innovation and impact today through the efforts of our amazing workforce. The lab team has demonstrated time and again its resilience and commitment to our mission of service to the nation … through outstanding science and technology.”