Top Livermore physicist resigns
Sep 3, 1999
One of the world's top laser physicists has resigned after it was revealed that he did not have a PhD. Mike Campbell, the associate director for laser programmes at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, was in charge of building the $1.2 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Livermore. NIF will recreate the conditions inside a nuclear weapon explosion and is a key component in the programme to ensure the reliability and safety of the US's nuclear weapons in the absence of testing. George Miller, the associate director for national security at Livermore, has stepped in as acting director for laser programmes.
Campbell left his position last Friday after a series of anonymous faxes was sent to officials at the Department of Energy (DOE) saying that he did not have a doctorate degree. Although Campbell finished his PhD coursework at Princeton University, he did not complete his dissertation. Campbell joined Livermore in 1977, and has won a series of awards including the Weapons Program Award of Excellence (for developing the X-ray laser), the American Physical Society Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research, the Lawrence Award and the Edward Teller Award.
Campbell is officially 'on leave'. His departure comes at a time when DOE employees are facing increasing scrutiny by security officials following leaks of nuclear secrets from the US's other nuclear weapons design lab in Los Alamos.