U.S. Department of Energy Honors UW VP Synakowski

head portrait of a man
Ed Synakowski

The University of Wyoming’s new vice president for research and economic development has been honored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for his efforts to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source.

Edmund “Ed” Synakowski received the DOE’s Meritorious Service Award Wednesday in a ceremony at UW, “for strong and insightful leadership” as the agency’s associate director of science for the past eight years. He began his work at UW in August.

“His skill and experience, devotion to the field and identification of priorities have significantly reshaped and improved the national fusion energy sciences program and impacted the international scene,” the agency’s award narrative reads. “Through challenging times, his scientific expertise, professionalism, thoughtfulness, strategic vision and articulate presentations have been much appreciated.”

The award recognizes notable career dedication and outstanding service to the DOE and the American public.

Synakowski had served as associate director of science in the DOE since 2009, administering a budget of about $400 million annually to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source. The agency supports research at more than 50 universities, eight national and two federal laboratories, and 15 industry groups.

Among his accomplishments with the DOE:

-- Led development of the Matter in Extreme Conditions instrument, which has become a world-leading facility for high-energy-density plasma studies.

-- Provided guidance to the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee in its formulation of a strategic plan for the national program.

-- Was primary author of the “Fusion Energy Sciences Ten-Year Perspective Report” that prioritized research directions for the field.

-- Reorganized the Fusion Energy Sciences program office and rebuilt the program’s office staff following the retirements of a large number of longtime staff members.

Synakowski previously led the Fusion Energy Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and held a number of roles at Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at Johns Hopkins University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas-Austin in 1988. He is the author of over 160 peer-reviewed journal articles, primarily in the area of plasma fusion science.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and a recipient of the APS Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research (2001) and Princeton University’s Kaul Foundation Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research and Technology Development (2000).

At UW, his role is to support and facilitate the research efforts of UW's faculty, staff and students; direct the university's research mission as a public research university; promote the university's research program with stakeholders; and direct technology transfer and commercialization efforts for UW intellectual property.



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