Andrew Sessler, 2013


For advancing accelerators as powerful tools of scientific discovery, for visionary direction of the research enterprise focused on challenges in energy and the environment, and for championing outreach and freedom of scientific inquiry worldwide.


Dr. Andrew Sessler is recognized for his pioneering work to make accelerators powerful tools of scientific discovery, the advancement of energy research, leadership for the national physics community, and championing freedom of scientific inquiry worldwide. Sessler was born in New York City in 1928. He received his bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1949 and doctorate from Columbia University in 1953. Following a postdoctal position at Cornell, he became an assistant, and then an associate professor at Ohio State University, moving to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in 1961. He served as its Director from 1973 to 1980.

Beginning in the 1950's, Sessler gained international recognition for developing particle accelerators and beam science. His work helped enable high-energy colliders, synchrotron light sources, and free-electron lasers, which are vital for current and future scientific discoveries. He established the theoretical basis for successful electron storage rings and colliding beam accelerators. He pioneered and developed the theoretical tools to analyze the instabilities limiting high-current beams, and applied these tools to develop design specifications enabling storage rings and colliders to reach high luminosities. He was awarded the Lawrence Award in 1970 for these advances. In the 1980s, Sessler contributed to the development of high-intensity free electron lasers (FELs), co-leading the pioneering FEL experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. More recently, Sessler advanced muon storage rings, and has been Spokesperson of the U.S. Neutrino Factory and the Muon Collider Collaboration. He also developed medical techniques, including ion beams for cancer treatment.

Beginning the 1960's, Sessler helped usher in a new era of energy-efficiency and sustainable-energy research for the Atomic Energy Commission, the Energy Research and Development Administration, and the Department of Energy. Under Sessler's leadership, LBNL established new divisions for energy and environmental research, including new programs in building sciences, energy efficiency, air quality, and the nation's largest geothermal research program. Under Sessler's leadership, LBNL grew to more than 5,000 employees, many dedicated to new fields of energy and environmental research.

Sessler served as President of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1998, and led the preparation of the APS Centennial, the largest physics meeting ever held, attracting approximately 10,000 scientists. Earlier he succeeded in having the APS create the new Division of the Physics of Beams. He promoted APS outreach to Latin America, and worked to increase the number of APS geographical sections, leading to the establishment of three new APS sections. Earlier, he chaired the APS Panel on Public Affairs, and subsequently chaired the APS Forum on Physics and Society, addressing physics issues affecting society as a whole. Sessler's leading role in promoting scientists' human rights and free inquiry was made possible by his broad contacts among the international accelerator community and national scientific leadership. He co-founded Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov, and Sharansky, and also served as 1982 Chair of the APS Committee on International Freedom of Scientists, as well as on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Human Rights 2007-2012.

The APS awarded Sessler the first Dwight Nicholson Medal for Human Outreach in 1994, and he also received its Wilson Prize in 1997. Amongst many additional honors, Dr. Serssler was elected Fellow, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the New York Academy of Sciences. He is a member of Sigma Xi, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

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