A top federal official toured the laser lab at the University of Rochester on Tuesday. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty is Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration. That agency is responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science.
Gordon-Hagerty said the role that the Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics plays in this process is a crucial one.
“Our nation’s nuclear deterrent has been effective, in great part, because of the understanding of how matter behaves in extreme states. Precisely the work that is accomplished here.”
Gordon-Hagerty said that the work that is done in Rochester is important not only in terms of the technology that is available at the laser lab, but she also hopes that the university will help supply the workforce needed for future research into nuclear security.
“In additional to its academic programs in facilities such as LLE, we hope that Rochester will continue to be a major source of the scientists and engineers who will become the foundation of our nuclear security enterprise in the years to come, Gordon-Hagerty said.
Congressman Joe Morelle says that the importance of the laser lab includes not only national security, but what it brings to the Rochester area.
“Not only does this facilitate groundbreaking research, it has a profound impact on our scientific community. It supports hundreds of local jobs, it plays a significant role in strengthening our regional economy,” Morelle said.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer invited Gordon-Hagerty to tour the lab when he worked to keep the facility open last year when a federal budget proposal could have shut it down.
The laser lab at the University of Rochester employs about 350 people.
UR president Sarah Mangelsdorf notes that Nobel Prize winners last year had done research at the university's laser lab, saying that, “a perfect example of what is possible when students have access to world class facilities and mentors is the 2018 Nobel prize in physics awarded to former University of Rochester graduate student, Donna Strickland and scientist Gérard Mourou, for discoveries they made here in this very facility.”