RICHLAND, Wash. - Four scientists from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences. They join other scientists and engineers from across the state who have been recognized for outstanding scientific achievement. As members, they will review and assess initiatives and provide state policymakers with scientific counsel.

The academy was created in 2005 and is made up of more than 100 members from diverse academic disciplines and industries, including aerospace, agriculture, computer science, energy, engineering, ecology and transportation.

The newly elected WSAS members and the sections that elected them are: Allan Konopka, Biological Sciences, Richard D. Smith, Physical and Mathematical Sciences, James Thomas, Engineering and Technology, and Ron Thom, Biological Sciences.

Allan Konopka

Konopka is a Laboratory Fellow who serves as director of microbiology in PNNL's Biological Sciences Division. He leads PNNL's Microbial Communities Initiative in the development of novel technologies to develop a mechanistic understanding of microbial community ecology.

Konopka has extensive experience in environmental sciences and in issues regarding undergraduate and graduate university education. He has published several materials related to undergraduate education in microbiology and has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. Konopka earned his doctorate and master's degree at the University of Washington.

Richard D. Smith

Smith is a Battelle Fellow and chief scientist in the Biological Science Division at PNNL, where he conducts life sciences and biological research. His contribution in the fields of proteomics, mass spectrometry and separations science led to advances in health, energy, the environment and national security. He is an adjunct faculty member at Washington State University, the University of Utah and the University of Idaho. He has presented at more than 350 national and international scientific meetings, has authored more than 750 publications, holds 39 patents and has received nine R&D 100 Awards for his innovations. Smith earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Utah.

Ronald Thom

Thom is a marine ecologist based at PNNL's Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, Wash., and is recognized internationally for restoration of damaged coastal ecosystems. He developed effective techniques for salvaging and restoring eelgrass beds that have become a model for restoration. Thom's systematic assessment method for shoreline management was the model for prioritizing management actions to conserve and restore nearshore ecosystems. His approach has been applied throughout the United States and Mexico. Most recently, Thom assisted South Korea in coastal restoration and is developing a research agreement with a Chinese university on coastal ecosystem restoration. Thom earned his doctoral degree in fisheries at the University of Washington.

James Thomas

Thomas was a senior science advisor at PNNL and founder of the National Visualization and Analytics Center. He was recognized internationally as a leader in establishing the growing science of visual analytics. In 2009, Thomas received the Christopher Columbus Foundation Award for his efforts in driving technology that aids in detecting, predicting, preventing and responding to acts of terrorism. He served on science advisory boards for the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Thomas published more than 160 papers, was granted 13 patents and received two R&D 100 Awards among other honors. Thomas earned his master's degree in computer science at Washington State University. The award is being presented to Thomas in posthumous recognition of his significant scientific accomplishments. Thomas died August 6, 2010.