Jefferson Lab Scientist Wins 2011 Lawrence Award

NEWPORT NEWS, VA. - A Jefferson Lab scientist has received a prestigious national award from the U.S. Department of Energy that recognizes his leadership role in research and development in support of the department and its missions.

Matt Poelker, a scientist with Jefferson Lab's accelerator division, was one of just nine winners of a 2011 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award. Each winner receives a gold medal, a citation and $20,000. They also will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC, early next year.

"These researchers have made significant contributions to the national, economic, and energy security of the United States," Energy Secretary Stephen Chu said in a prepared statement.  "I congratulate the winners and thank them for their work on behalf of the department and the nation."

The Lawrence Award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of Dr. Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron (a particle accelerator) and after whom two major Energy Department laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore, California are named.

Poelker received his award in the high-energy and nuclear physics category. He was recognized for leading a transformative effort to achieve production of electron beams possessing remarkable properties, advancing parity-violation and polarization-transfer experiments.

Poelker leads Jefferson Lab's Center for Injectors and Sources. The group develops and maintains the sources of electron beams for Jefferson Lab's CEBAF accelerator. The group has made great strides in providing record-current, highly polarized electron beams, in which the spins of the electrons are mostly aligned in one direction. Precision control of the electron beam's polarization can yield key information on the quark-gluon structure of nucleons, such as protons and neutrons.

Poelker, a resident of Yorktown, joined Jefferson Lab in 1994. He received a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Northwestern University.

For more information about the Ernest O. Lawrence award, visit

The U.S. Department of Energy release, listing all of the winners, is available online:


Contact: Dean Golembeski, Jefferson Lab,, 757-269-7689, or
Kandice Carter, Jefferson Lab,, 757-269-7263


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