Top expert on lasers quits Livermore lab post

Anonymous faxes reveal he lacks required degree

August 31, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

The director of an installation intended to house the world's most powerful lasers has resigned his post after a flurry of anonymous faxes to officials at his California laboratory and the Department of Energy in Washington disclosed that he lacked a doctoral degree.

E. Michael Campbell, associate director for lasers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., left his position Friday but remains an employee of the laboratory on leave, a laboratory spokesman said. Campbell is recognized as one of the world's leading experts in ultra-high-energy lasers.

Livermore's director, Dr. Bruce Tarter, said Campbell's resignation had been for personal reasons.

The Livermore laboratory, operated by the Department of Energy, conducts research in nuclear weapons and nonmilitary projects, including the development of nuclear fusion as a source of power.

Campbell held a pivotal position at Livermore as director of a $1.2 billion program to build the National Ignition Facility, which will conduct research in weapons and fusion, and play an important role in ensuring that America's aging nuclear arsenal is ready for a war.

The main weapons research at the installation will focus on the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program, which monitors the readiness of the nation's nuclear warheads, in part with mathematical models and laboratory experiments. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1993, the United States has barred test explosions of nuclear weapons and has sought to develop alternative methods of testing.

Campbell will be replaced by George Miller, Livermore's associate director for national security. Miller is expected to undertake a far-reaching evaluation of the National Ignition Facility.

Jeff Richardson, a laboratory spokesman, said yesterday that Campbell had falsely allowed the laboratory to believe he had a doctorate from Princeton University, but that he never finished his dissertation.

Asked whether a doctorate was required for holding Campbell's position, Richardson said, "We require all senior managers to hold a doctorate or its equivalent in experience."

Livermore press releases during the past several years have always referred to Campbell as Dr. Campbell, and he apparently did nothing to correct the title.

Campbell could not be reached for comment.

Pub Date: 8/31/99

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