2023 Application Process

Organizations, academic institutions, and businesses are welcome to nominate someone for the 2023 Distinguished Scientist Award.  The nomination process and eligibility requirements are available in the 2023 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, 2023.

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.

2022 Award Winner

Dr. M. John Plodinec

Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA) is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2022 Fred C. Davison Distinguished Scientist Award is Dr. M. John Plodinec. This prestigious award was announced on November 1, 2022, at the 31st Annual Teller Lecture and Banquet held in Aiken, SC.

Dr. Plodinec is an internationally recognized expert in nuclear waste characterization and disposition. He influenced every aspect of the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) from waste characterization, canister closure proof testing, and the facility’s $40 million product qualification program. He prepared the technical case used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to declare vitrification the Best Demonstrated Available Technology for High Level Waste (HLW) and authored
the Waste Acceptance Product Specifications governing all HLW glass products in the United States. He regularly consults with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

Dr. Plodinec received his B.A. in Chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College in 1968 and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Florida in 1974. At the Savannah River Site, he held various positions from 1974 to 1997 including Manager and Senior Advisory Scientist in charge of the Glass Technology Group. From 1997 to 2005 he was the Director of Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory at Mississippi State University. From 2005 to 2010 he was a Science Advisor at the
Savannah River National Laboratory. Most recently, he served as the Vice Chair for the National Academies of Science and Engineering committee supporting the DOE Environmental Management waste cleanup program and as a Technical Director for the Alliance for National and Community

Dr. Plodinec’s work is internationally recognized. He organized a team under the US-Argentina Technical Exchange agreement to demonstrate the destruction of reactor ion exchange resins via
vitrification; assisted the Indian glass and foundry industry to convert from coal to natural gas to protect the Taj Mahal; and prepared recommendations to the Estonian government for the clean up of contamination at the notorious Sillamae site.

Dr. Plodinec is the author of Assessment of Science and Technology for the Department of Energy’sDefense Environmental Cleanup Program from the National Academies Press, wrote book chapters intwo other volumes, and published more than 250 scholarly articles and government research reports. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters from the U.S. Army, a Fellow in the American Ceramic Society, and the winner of a NATO Fellowship.

Thanks to John’s tireless efforts and others in the central engineering group, we loaded the first glassfilled canister into the glass waste storage building ahead of schedule and under budget,” said former DWPF Project Manager David Amerine. “I found his keen insights, affable manner, and quick wit a pleasure as well as a benefit. John is a national treasure.”

“In addition to John’s many scientific and programmatic contributions, he was also an excellent mentor. In particular, he was an early, and avid, advocate for women in technical positions,” said Savannah River National Laboratory Contracts Manager Amy Ramsey. “Many professional women at SRNL,
active and retired, benefited from his recognition and support.”

The Distinguished Scientist Award is presented annually to recognize regional scientists and engineers who have made exceptional lifetime scientific achievements. The award is in honor of Dr. Fred C. Davison who was Chairman of CNTA’s Board of Directors from 1994 until his death in 2004.

Davison was President of the University of Georgia for 19 years where he encouraged math and science education and managed the doubling of graduate enrollment. Davison was also President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Science Center Foundation, President of the Georgia-Carolina Boy Scouts Council, an elder at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, and an active Rotarian.

CNTA is an Aiken-based charitable educational organization dedicated to providing factual information about nuclear topics and educating the public on nuclear issues. For further information, call CNTA at 803-649-3456 or e-mail at cnta@bellsouth.net.


For a list of previous winners, check out our archive