The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is the world's largest and most powerful laser system. The NIF is built to create very extreme states of matter - similar to those found in the interiors of stars and planets. Here, scientists and engineers are working hard to demonstrate sustainable fusion burn - the same reaction that occurs in the sun - to one day harness as a source of limitless, clean energy.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Tammy Ma

Dr. Tammy Ma is an experimental physicist at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).  She earned her B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from Caltech, and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.

Tammy's parents brought her to Science on Saturday as a high school student (she attended Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, California), and through it she was inspired to explore and understand the world through science.

Since then, she has dabbled in various types of research, from microbiology to 3D printers to spacecraft thrusters and high power lasers.  Tammy now leads a large number of the fusion experiments at the NIF, and currently heads the X-Ray Analysis Group for the Inertial Confinement Fusion program.  Dr. Ma has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal publications and regularly speaks at international physics conferences.

Tammy also takes an active role in many science outreach programs.

Tom Shefler

Granada High School

Mr. Shefler received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and applied mathematics from Western Michigan University in 1997 and a Master of Arts degree in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000. While at Berkeley, he researched analyzed and cataloged Hubble Space Telescope images of galaxies, observational research involved in the detection and study of extrasolar planets, and discovered Supernova 1998DT while working with the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope team. During his graduate studies he fell in love with teaching and entered the teaching profession in 2002.