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Mary Spaeth

Mary received her bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from Valparaiso University in Indiana, in 1960 and her Master’s degree in Physics from Wayne State University, Detroit, in 1962. She quickly became known as an innovator in laser physics, optical design, and device engineering. Mary was one of the original innovators in tunable dye lasers, which revolutionized the laser industry. Mary joined the LLNL Laser Program in 1974, attracted to laboratory by the prospects of using tunable dye lasers to produce enriched uranium, the technology later transferred to the U.S. Enrichment Corporation for further commercial development. Later, she became Chief Technologist for the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s most energetic laser. Building NIF required unprecedented precision and accuracy along with breakthroughs in laser and optical element manufacturing at scales more than 100 times previously available, with. As the lead systems engineer, Mary played a key role in ensuring that the requirements, quality, acceptance, installation, and commissioning process for $1.2 billion of NIF equipment went flawlessly. She was truly a pioneer in the laser field.