Fermi Award On March 28, 2023, President Joe Biden announced the selection of Dr. Darleane C. Hoffman and Dr. Gabor A. Somorjai as recipients of the 2023 Enrico Fermi Award for groundbreaking achievements in science. The awards ceremony honoring the 2023 Enrico Fermi Award Laureates was held on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The ceremony program is available here.

The recording of the ceremony proceedings is available here.

Laureate video: Darleane C. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Laureate video: Gabor A. Somorjai, Ph.D.

Video credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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The 2023 Enrico Fermi Award Winners: 

Darlene C Hoffman

Darleane C. Hoffman, Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (retired)

Honored “for scientific discoveries advancing the field of nuclear and radiochemistry, for distinguished service to the Department’s missions in national security and nuclear waste management, and for sustained leadership in radiochemistry research and education.”

Jump to Bio.


Gabor A Somorjai

Gabor A. Somorjai, Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Honored “for seminal advances in molecular studies of surfaces through the use of single crystals, for the development of techniques for quantitative determinations of surface structure, and for establishing the molecular foundations of heterogeneous metal catalysis.”

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Darleane C. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Dr. Darleane C. Hoffman's achievements span the disciplines of nuclear chemistry, actinide chemistry, radiochemistry, environmental chemistry, and actinide separation science, bearing witness to a career of remarkable creativity, insight, and lasting impact. Substantiation of both the significance of her accomplishments and their impact on DOE missions can be found in the history of recognition she has achieved in her career, having made enduring impact on DOE missions that encompasses the areas of national security, waste management, and environmental management. This impact stems from her scientific record of accomplishment, her record of excellence in management and leadership, her technical service impacting policy related to radioactive waste management and national security, and her tireless support for education in nuclear and radiochemistry.

Darleane C. Hoffman was born in Terril, Iowa, and completed B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry at Iowa State University. There she met and married Marvin M. Hoffman. She joined Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory as a radiochemist in 1953. She conducted groundbreaking studies of the fission properties of fermium-257. She created methods for separating plutonium and the actinides, which became the basis for analyzing nuclear test debris and were used in the national security community for programs in nonproliferation and treaty verification. Her group’s studies of radionuclide migration at the Nevada Test Site helped formulate methods for safe storage of nuclear waste, and its isolation from the environment. Her group was the first to demonstrate the presence of transuranium elements in nature.

In 1984, she became a Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and Leader of the Heavy Element Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Her development of “atom-at-a-time” chemistry made possible the study of elements with half-lives of less than one minute. Her group investigated the chemistry of elements 104 (rutherfordium), 105 (dubnium), 106 (seaborgium), 107 (bohrium), and 108 (hassium). She and colleagues confirmed the discovery of element 106, which was named for Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg. Hoffman also served as the charter director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science.

Hoffman’s awards include (among others): US National Medal of Science, Los Alamos Medal, American Chemical Society’s Priestley Medal, Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, American Chemical Society’s Garvan-Olin Medal, Sigma Xi Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement, and Membership in the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.


Gabor A. Somorjai, Ph.D.

In Dr. Gabor A. Somorjai’s nearly 5 decade-long research career, beginning with his study of metalized catalysts using small angle X-ray scattering in 1960, he has co-authored more than 1,200 scientific papers and three textbooks on surface chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis, and has mentored more than 400 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have prominent positions in DOE national laboratories and who are leading major world class surface science and energy conversions. Over seventy of the scientists trained in his University of California (UC) Berkeley Laboratory are faculty members worldwide, and a large number are industry leaders in the electronic, chemical, and energy industries.

Professor Somorjai holds 10 honorary degrees from universities around the world. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University, Budapest, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a staff scientist with IBM for four years until his appointment as Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley. In 2002 he was appointed University Professor, the highest honor bestowed to a faculty member in the University of California System. He is also a Faculty Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences (2013), Eni New Frontiers of Hydrocarbon Prize (2011), BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2010), and Honda Prize (2011), and Cotton Medal (2003). He received the National Medal of Science (2001), Wolf Prize (1998), Helmholtz Medal from the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (2020), Langmuir Award from the American Physical Society (2007), and Von Hippel Award of the Materials Research Society (1997). He has received several awards from the American Chemical Society (ACS), including the Priestley Medal (2008), Award for Creative Research in Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Catalysis (2000), Adamson Award in Surface Chemistry (1994), Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry (1989), William Nichols Medal (2015), and Linus Pauling Award (2000). 

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