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.

2020 Award Winner

Dr. Paul F. Cloessner (SRNL)

Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA) is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 Fred C. Davidson Distinguished Scientist Award is Dr. Paul F. Cloessner. This prestigious award was announced on October 22, 2020 at the Up and Atom breakfast in Aiken, SC.


Dr. Cloessner is a Laboratory Fellow at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) at the Savannah River Site (SRS). He advises SRNL, corporate, and government leaders on critical national security issues and serves on the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Advisory Council. He is a nationally recognized authority on heavy water reactor fuel production, plutonium production and uranium recycling, tritium production and processing, warhead gas transfer systems, and high level waste management.


Dr. Cloessner received his B.S. in Chemistry at Louisiana State University in 1979 and his Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from Florida State University in 1985. Since starting as a Research Chemist at SRNL in 1984, he continually moved up to more challenging positions with greater responsibility. These include Manager for Weapons Technology in 1998, Director of Defense Programs Technology in 2003, and Director of Nonproliferation Technology in 2010. He was named the Deputy Associate Laboratory Director in 2010, Laboratory Fellow in 2013, and Vice President NNSA Chief Business Officer in 2018.


Dr. Cloessner’s technical and managerial acumen were evidenced by his development of the enterprise strategy for SRNL and his leading a NNSA effort across multiple sites to establish a codified and accurate plan for the management of the nation’s tritium supply. He also made important contributions to the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review to guide future nuclear security policy and nuclear weapons strategy.


Dr. Cloessner received the American Society of Testing and Materials Nuclear Fuel Cycle Achievement Award in 1994, the Sandia National Laboratory SP981 Stem Remediation Project Award in 1999, and the NNSA Defense Programs Award of Excellence in 2015. He is a member of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, the American Nuclear Society, serves on the CNTA Board of Directors and CNTA’s Executive Committee.


“Dr. Cloessner serves as a resource in problem solving for staff of all levels,” said Laboratory Director Dr. Vahid Majidi. “I have found Paul to be a great mentor and an irreplaceable asset at SRNL.”


“One of Paul’s strengths is recognizing issues of national and international strategic importance, working with colleagues within the Nuclear Weapons Complex to build coalitions of experts, and elevating these to the attention of senior government leaders and policy makers,” said David Wilson, SRNL Associate Laboratory Director for National Security.


“Dr. Cloessner has a remarkable blend of intelligence, experience, judgment, passion, and humility that makes him an exceptional technical expert and leader,” said David E. Eyler, Los Alamos National Laboratory Associate Director. “I could always rely on Dr. Cloessner to provide exceptional leadership to any organization we asked him to lead, delivering exceptional results with high quality and efficiency.”

For a list of previous winners, check out our archive