2024 Application Process

Organizations, academic institutions, and businesses are welcome to nominate someone for the 2024 Distinguished Scientist Award.  The nomination process and eligibility requirements are available in the 2024 Distinguished Scientist Award-Call for Nominations.

Eligibility requirements for candidates are:
• Candidates residence should be or should have been in Georgia or South Carolina, at the time of the accomplishment(s)
• Accomplishment(s) must either have ties to SRS or provide significant benefit to the region. The candidate does not have to currently be or have been an SRS employee
• Accomplishment(s) could include multiple accomplishments over a long period of time or a single truly outstanding accomplishment
• Candidates can be actively working or retired

Nominations are due to CNTA by July 31, 2024. 

Award History

The Fred C. Davison Distinguished Scientist Award is given annually to honor scientists or engineers from the region whose lifetime scientific contributions have been exceptional. The award was first presented at CNTA’s 13th Annual Edward Teller Lecture and Banquet on November 18, 2004.

Dr. Fred C. Davison was Chairman of CNTA’s Board of Directors from 1994 until his death in 2004. It is no exaggeration to say that Fred’s stature and influence were largely responsible for CNTA’s growth and success during those ten years. Fred attended Emory University before obtaining a Veterinary degree from the University of Georgia and later a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Pathology from Iowa State University. While in Veterinary School he met Dianne, who became his beloved wife. Dianne also obtained her Veterinary degree.

Fred was one of those rare people who was admired and loved by everyone privileged to know him. He was a leader in the best meaning of the word. He had enormous intellect, yet empathized with and befriended everyone, regardless of station. His friendly demeanor and great humor were ever present and graced every meeting with him.

After Fred’s retirement from the University of Georgia, he moved to Augusta and almost immediately became a highly effective community leader. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Science Center Foundation, funding innovative secondary education in science and mathematics. He was President of the Georgia-Carolina Boy Scouts Council. He was an active Rotarian and an elder of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, where he taught an adult Sunday School class.

Much has been said and written about Fred’s enormous contributions to his alma mater, the University of Georgia, where he served as President for 19 years. Under his leadership, the University of Georgia became one of the strongest graduate and research institutions in the United States. Student enrollment grew from 15,600 to 25,000 and graduate enrollment more than doubled. He viewed enhanced education in Math and Science as important to the future of our nation. Everyone who knew Fred was pleased that before his death he was able to attend the dedication of the Fred C. Davison Life Sciences Complex in Athens GA, a 257,000 square foot facility for biotechnology research.

Because of Fred’s enormous contributions to CNTA, the annual Distinguished Scientist Award was renamed the Fred C. Davison Distinguished Scientist Award. We believe Fred would be pleased by this, because he believed that our recognition of outstanding local scientists was an important thing to do.

2023 Award Winner

Dr. Eliel Villa-Aleman

Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA) is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2023 Fred C. Davidson Distinguished Scientist Award is Dr. Eliel Villa-Aleman. This prestigious award was announced on October 24, 2023, at the 32nd Annual Teller Lecture and Banquet held in Aiken, SC.

Dr. Villa-Aleman has led research and development programs for the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) addressing critical national security needs across the U.S. Government. These advanced technology programs are in the fields of particle collection, instrumentation, and analysis; laser and general spectroscopy; advanced infrared imagery; remote sensing; Pu-bearing compounds and nuclear forensics; quantum entanglement; and prototype COVID face masks utilizing electrostatic precipitation technology to filtrate and clean air.

Dr. Villa-Aleman received his B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico in 1979 and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Wayne State University in 1987. His doctoral dissertation was entitled “Photoionization Studies of the Triplet State in a Supersonic Jet.” He is a prolific author with numerous articles in peer reviewed publications in addition to internal SRNL technical reports.

Over the last 30 years, Dr. Villa-Aleman’s research funding has exceeded $20 million. He is a recognized expert to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security. He has worked with research teams from across the Department of Energy (DOE) complex including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory. Dr. Villa-Aleman became a SRNL Laboratory Fellow in 2021.

“When it comes to particle science technical research and development, I consider Eliel the lead subject matter expert in this area. His technical competence and project management acumen are unmatched by his peers,” said Christopher Iwan, a Program Manager at the Y-12 national Security Complex / Pantex Plant. “Eliel is one of the best at proposing technology advancing proposals and leading cutting-edge projects that advance scientific capabilities … I have the upmost confidence in his technical abilities and consider him the standard bearer for all other Principal Investigators.”

Commenting on his collaborations with Dr. Villa-Aleman, Daniel Orlikowski, the Nonproliferation Stewardship Program Lead at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, wrote that he, “Demonstrated ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and was able to unlock strong insights on material science and metallurgical observables … Eliel’s leadership in particle collections is very useful to those designs in this field.”

For a list of previous winners, check out our archive