U.S. Weapons Lab Gets a New Director

Penrose Albright

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

A veteran of U.S. national security policy debates has been chosen as the next director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the Department of Energy's two nuclear weapons research labs. Penrose Albright, a physicist with long experience in the U.S. government, will succeed George Miller, a career employee who had led the northern California lab for the past 5 years.

Albright now serves as the director of the global security program at Livermore. And his promotion to the top spot at the $1.6 billion lab is not necessarily an enviable gig, says Steven Aftergood, director of the government secrecy program at the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists. "Any director will have to function within a tightly constrained and shrinking fiscal environment," he says. "It's a tough job even for a scientific or bureaucratic superstar."

But Aftergood says Albright, who previously served as an assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, should know how to navigate contentious Washington politics. "Dr. Albright is intimately familiar with the ways of Washington and its multiple pathologies," Aftergood says. "He probably has as good a chance as anyone of being a successful director."

Albright, 58, certainly hopes so. "This is the pinnacle of my career," he says. He assumes the directorship in December.