Distinguished Alumni Awards

Elaine Ackles Chandler

Elaine Ackles Chandler
To Elaine A. Chandler, for developing strategic multidisciplinary and multi-investigator programs and for applying milestone-based management methods to focused basic research in the national interest.

Program Development and Strategic Planning, Materials Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California

  • BS, 1967, Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • MS, 1969, Physics, Tufts University
  • PhD, 1981, Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 A theoretical physicist, Elaine Ackles Chandler has spent most of her professional career in developing effective science-based programs to advance the nation’s defense. She currently assists the deputy director and director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in developing new strategic multi-investigator and multidisciplinary research programs in the national interest. Since moving to LBNL in 2004, Chandler has developed several partnerships between physics and materials experts and health researchers to foster the rapid development of new diagnostics for cancer and the development and “insertion” of new stem-cell related therapies. This list includes a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID)-based NMR imaging partnership among low-temperature physics researchers at LBNL and the cancer program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) medical school. Their goal: to develop a new SQUID-based paradigm for in situ cancer imaging during surgery and the use of quantum dots to directly image stem-cell multiplication.

She has guided the organization of a new multi-investigator quantum materials effort and the formation of a new soft-matter electron microscopy strategic initiative. In the last three years she has worked closely with the lab’s director, Steve Chu, in the development of the LBNL–UC Berkeley Helios Project, focused on the development of alternate transportation fuels to mediate global warming due to fossil fuels. This project has spun off the $500 million BP-funded Energy Biosciences Institute—a partnership among LBNL, UC Berkeley, and the University of Illinois College of ACES. Her most recent efforts are focused on developing the Helios Solar Energy Research Center as its deputy director.

Before joining LBNL, Chandler worked in Defense Technologies at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where she developed and led focused basic science projects involving researchers from several disciplines. These projects included the multi-scale modeling Dynamics of Metals Group, which grew to be the nexus for researchers worldwide; the LLNL component of the Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration’s Dynamic Materials experimental science campaign; and the LLNL component of the Advanced Strategic Computing Materials and Physics program. The purpose for these research activities was to develop a science-based method of certifying the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile without relying on nuclear testing.

In 1997, Chandler served at DOE headquarters as a member of the Science Advisory Panel for the Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs. She has spent sabbaticals at the E´cole Normale Supe´rieure de Lyon (1992) and at Oxford University (1993, 2001) as a Visiting Fellow of Merton College.

Throughout her career, Chandler has gravitated to programs spanning the intersection of science and serious societal challenges. She says that the satisfaction that this brings her stems from her very first interactions with the Department of Physics at Illinois, when as a young mother who had put her education on hold, she took a half-time position to work on the Population Dynamics Program. This program, coordinated by Professor Paul Handler and funded by the UN and the USAID, used the novel teaching computer PLATO to develop an educational program to help developing countries plan for the needs of their rapidly growing populations. Today, the program is still ported to PCs all over the world, and the number of people it continues to benefit is a constant reminder of the tremendous impact that can accrue from non-traditional but well-placed science and technology efforts—a lasting tribute to Professor Handler’s vision.

At Illinois, Chandler has been engaged in the development of the physics undergraduate research/senior thesis project in her capacity as a member, and now, chair of the Physics Advisory Board. She has been instrumental in promoting student internships at LBL and LLNL and in recruiting graduates for LLNL.

Current as of 2008.