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Distinguished Alumni

Lynn G. Seppala

Lynn Seppala is an optical engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a national security laboratory in California that is a leader in technical innovation. Highly regarded as a pioneer in optics, Seppala was one of the main optical-system architects of the National Ignition Facility, a stadium-sized laser. He also is the main optical designer for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the world's largest light-gathering instrument, which will be built in Chile.

An enthusiastic and steadfast supporter for the University, he has brought distinction to the University through his service and professional achievements.

Seppala received a bachelor's degree in physics in 1968 from South Dakota State University and a doctoral degree in optics from the University of Rochester in 1974. He worked for Itek Corporation in the Boston area before joining Lawrence Livermore in 1976. In 1990, he received the R&D 100 Award, which is given to the most significant, newly introduced research and development advances.

In 1992, Seppala suffered a stroke brought on by a sports-related accident. Through outstanding determination, he returned to work less than a year later. In 1998, he was one of the top designers in a competition sponsored by the International Optical Design Conference.

A member of the George Eastman Circle, Seppala is an ardent supporter of the University of Rochester. He served as a member of the Biomedical Engineering Optics Campaign, making a leadership gift with his wife, Joan, for construction of Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics. He provides invaluable insight to optics faculty and University leadership. A member of the San Francisco Regional Cabinet, Seppala hosted the Ying Quartet concert to a near sellout crowd in Livermore in January. In May, he delivered the commencement address for the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Seppalas are avid supporters of the arts and active volunteers. He is past president of the Pacific Chamber Symphony and a current board member, and is a board member for Del Valle Fine Arts, the Rae Dorough Speakers Series, the Las Positas College Foundation, and the Friends of the Vineyards. He also serves on the advisory board for the Livermore Valley Opera. Earlier this year, he was named to the South Dakota Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding professional accomplishments and his impact on the development and heritage of South Dakota.

(Fall 2011)

Research and Innovation are essential to our nation’s economy, and the discoveries in our laboratories serve to provide the foundation for training future engineers and scientists as well as generate commercially viable ideas for licensing and new venture creation.

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