Dawn Shaughnessy and her team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are pushing the boundaries of the physical world, discovering the heaviest elements the world has ever known.
As the group leader for experimental nuclear and radiochemistry and the principal investigator for the heavy element group at the laboratory, Shaughnessy, along with her team, has discovered six new elements (113-118) on the periodic table, the heaviest elements found to date.
She recently led a group in the proposed name of the newest heavy element to be accepted to the periodic table - element 116, which is to be named Livermorium. The name was chosen to honor Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the city of Livermore, Calif.
"Nuclear theory states that once you get so far on the periodic table, these newly found elements shouldn't really exist," Shaughnessy said. "But what we've found as we travel down the periodic table is that these elements get more stable the heavier they get, and once an element is stable we can figure out how they can be useful."
Shaughnessy recently was inducted into the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame for 2012.