Opportunity Areas

The links below will take you to the LLNL website. If you find an area that interests you, contact Peter Luger (peter.luger@georgetown.edu) and we will work with LLNL to identify opportunities. (Please note that there may not be an open opportunity for every student interested and qualified.)

Physics and Life Science Directorate

From radiation effects to threat detection

Concerns about underground nuclear testing and the effects of ionizing radiation on humans prompted the Atomic Energy Commission to establish a biological research program at Lawrence Livermore in 1963. Since then, the program’s mission has evolved to address changing national needs, while making important scientific breakthroughs in the process. For instance, the early work on radiation led to the discovery of flow sorting and chromosome painting, which enabled researchers to study DNA damage and the creation of chromosome-specific clone libraries in new ways. The Human Genome Project, the largest biological research project ever undertaken, followed these key discoveries.

In the years since 9/11, Livermore biologists have concentrated their efforts on detecting, assessing, and combating biological threats, both natural and deliberately developed. The Biosciences and Biotechnology Division is the nexus for biology research at the Laboratory. Our biologists work closely with chemists, engineers, physicists, and computer scientists from across the Laboratory on endeavors such as delivering technologies that rapidly detect a pathogen once it is released, processing samples with possible bioterrorist agents, cleaning contaminated facilities, and treating people exposed to pathogens, to name just a few. 

Applied Genomics

The Applied Genomics Group develops innovative bioassays to rapidly detect infectious agents and other pathogens to support public health, food safety, and drug safety. Scientists in this group apply their expertise in genomics, bioinformatics, virology and molecular biology to characterize human and animal pathogens, develop assays to detect microbial agents in the environment, identify novel biomarkers for diagnostics of infectious diseases, characterize unknown and emerging pathogens, and study the evolution and virulence mechanisms of key viral and bacterial threat agents.

Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

The National Resource for Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry has been established to make AMS available to biomedical researchers who have a need for accurately measuring very low levels of 14C and other radioisotopes in their research. The Resource is also working to enhance AMS for analysis of radioisotopes in biomedical tracer studies through development of new methods and instrumentation.

Biochemical and Biophysical Systems Group

The Biochemical and Biophysical Systems Group is formed by experimental and computational biologists who use a wide range of expertise to approach cutting-edge problems in systems biology.  We use multidisciplinary approaches – ranging from molecular biology through proteomics to modeling – to investigate microbes and microbial communities as they respond to different perturbations, including those relevant to emerging issues in bioenergy, bioremediation, and pathogenesis.  In addition to developing computational tools to describe and predict biological systems, we are combining experimental efforts with modeling and simulation methods to design and develop safe and effective therapeutics.  Our principal unifying objective is to gain a predictive understanding of protein-mediated activities that are critical to cells and their interactions in living systems.

Biosecurity and Bio Nanoscience Group

Our group conducts bio-nanoscience research that applies nanoscience and nanotechnology to problems for national biosecurity interests. We are a multidisciplinary team with expertise in physics, chemistry, materials science and biology.  This unique cross cutting expertise allows us to work together on basic and applied research toward LLNLʼs mission in nonproliferation, counterterrorism and life sciences. Our current research focus includes developing novel detection methods for biological agents, advanced bioanalytical and molecular imaging instrumentations for nanoscale characterization, novel carbon nanotube fabrics that repels chemical and biological agents and nano-lipidprotein technology as a medical countermeasure to biological threats.

Host-Pathogen Biology Group

The Host-Pathogen Group is a diverse group of scientists with expertise in microbiology, virology, immunology, and bacterial pathogenesis. Scientists in this group conduct research on host-pathogen interactions with a focus on bio threat viruses and bacteria. Projects include studies of host immune responses during infection using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches, vaccine and therapeutic development with an emphasis on broad-spectrum efficacy, viral evolution and cross species transmission, and pathogen characterization and survival in the environment.

Pharmacology and Toxicology Group

The Pharmacology and Toxicology Group conducts basic science and applied research on the mechanisms of action of the effects of chemicals and drugs in humans, how gene expression is regulated, and bone metabolism and fracture repair. We also focus on understanding the damage caused by radiation exposure, developing new technology for bio-surveillance of outbreaks of infectious diseases, and accelerating the development of medical countermeasures. Our studies help us to understand how people respond to drugs and chemicals, how they vary in their response, and how to prevent deleterious effects.


Preventing and mitigating potentially catastrophic incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-explosive materials

In a world where threats are continuously changing, the Laboratory is working diligently to help the nation prevent and mitigate catastrophic incidents arising from biological, chemical, radiological or high explosive materials. The Laboratory provides unparalleled expertise in threat and risk assessment, detection of threat materials, understanding and mitigating the consequences of attacks, forensic analysis and much more. This broad scope of capabilities, many available 24/7, has resulted in collaborations with sponsors such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations. Laboratory collaborators further benefit from significant historical investments in both infrastructure and multidisciplinary expertise by the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration as well as the Department of Defense. Together these capabilities provide a major component of the nation's defenses against the catastrophic threat posed by the malicious use of weapons of mass destruction.


Our research is focused on realizing a physiologically relevant ex vivo human model, exploring the frontiers of bioprinting, and creating neural interfaces to unravel the mysteries of the human brain and develop novel therapies for health problems involving the nervous system.  Some of our current work includes:

  • In-Vitro Chip based Human Investigational Platform (iCHIP)—A biocompatible platform for maintaining the human phenotype for extended periods 
  • Bioprinting multicellular, 3-D microvasculature for maintaining thick tissue survival and function 
  • Tissue interfaces—Nontoxic, noninvasive measurements for real-time assessment of biochemical and electrical signatures indicative of tissue health 
  • Implantable neural interface to record and stimulate neurons to treat disorder of the human nervous systems such as neuropsychiatric, memory, hearing, vision, sensory feedback, and other neurologic disorders

Advanced Manufacturing

Manufacturing is undergoing a dramatic transition enabled by new techniques, new materials, and high-performance computing. One of the epicenters of this transition is within the Advanced Manufacturing labs at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At LLNL, our efforts in manufacturing science range from developing new additive manufacturing processes to carbon fiber composites. We span size scales from micrometer and nanometer-sized structures to meter-sized components for national security applications, and our materials sets range from polymers to metals and ceramics. Our work is underpinned by deep scientific understanding gained through high-performance computing, modeling, and simulation.

Signal and Image Sciences

Signal Processing section creates and implements technologies which extract information from signals and imagery, and use the extracted information to inform decisions and control complex systems. This broad competency combines an understanding of the underlying physical processes, statistical analysis, and sophisticated mathematical techniques used to extract quantitative information from corrupted observations and models.

Ultrafast Optics and Photonics

Supporting the cutting-edge science performed at the Laboratory requires that we build systems with performance well beyond the limits of commercially available optics and electronics technologies. Such systems include ultrafast lasers and diagnostics for optical phenomena with timescales much less than 1 nanosecond, or highspeed RF electronics operating at frequencies far above 1 gigahertz. Areas of expertise include novel diagnostic development capabilities (temporal imaging and temporal-spectral Fourier transformation; all-optical, chipscale nonlinear optics in semiconductors for deflection and sampling; x-ray-to-optical format transcoding; Optical-Electronic-Optical (OEO) wavelength conversion; optical arbitrary waveform generation and detection; RF photonic systems and processors) and system integration and controls (beam- and pulse-shaping controls on injection laser systems for NIF and the Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC); beam-steering control on accelerators).


Computation advances the frontiers of computational science and delivers game-changing solutions to society’s biggest challenges in energy, environment, and national and global security. Our research and development activities are applications driven and are focused on LLNL programmatic objectives. By embedding our experts in multidisciplinary mission support teams throughout the Lab, we are a cornerstone of LLNL’s success. Among the many R&D areas Computation actively pursues are three overarching “core capabilities,” which are the skills and competencies that set LLNL apart and give it a competitive advantage. Computation currently owns three of the Lab’s core capabilities and iniatives: high performance computing, computational mathematics, and big data. We conduct collaborative scientific investigations that require the power of high performance computers and the efficiency of modern computational methods. Our research, some of which is described here, focuses on issues that will enable the next generation of computing applications for LLNL and our partners.