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Uncertainty ends for US nuclear lab as new leader is named

San Diego

A new director has been appointed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California — ending weeks of uncertainty over the future leadership of the nuclear-weapons research facility.

Physicist Michael Anastasio, currently LLNL's deputy director for strategic operations, was approved as director on 4 June by the regents of the University of California (UC), which manages the lab for the US Department of Energy.

Anastasio has worked at LLNL for 22 years, and is said to have played a key role in maintaining the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons in the absence of testing. He will take over from the current director, Bruce Tarter, on 1 July. LLNL has 7,500 employees and an annual budget of around $1.5 billion.

In April, Anastasio was one of a shortlist of four candidates when the UC regents almost named nuclear engineer Ray Juzaitis, an associate director at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, as LLNL director. But that plan was abandoned, reportedly after some LLNL researchers voiced opposition to it (see Nature 417, 3; 200210.1038/417003b).

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