Charles F. McMillan had been Principal Associate Director for Weapons Programs at Los Alamos and joined the laboratory in 2006, where he was responsible for directing the science, technology, engineering, and infrastructure that enables the Laboratory to deliver on its core mission of ensuring the safety, reliability, and performance of the nation's nuclear deterrent. McMillan was elected by peers to lead the Nuclear Security Enterprise Integration Council. Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos National Laboratory is a principal contributor to NNSAs' programs to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and to reduce the international dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction.
McMillan is also president of Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the company that manages and operates the lab for the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Prior to joining Los Alamos, McMillan, an experimental physicist, spent more than 20 years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, beginning in 1983. He holds a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor of science in Mathematics and Physics from Washington Adventist University.
His salary as director of the laboratory was US $1,081,059 a year in 2011.
McMillan has been awarded two Department of Energy Awards of Excellence. He is married with three college-age children. He is also an avid photographer and accomplished musician, playing piano, organ, and recorder. McMillan continues to perform in a baroque chamber music ensemble.
Los Alamos is one of three US nuclear-weapons labs – the other two being the LLNL and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. McMillan's responsibilities as head of Los Alamos will, however, go beyond developing and maintaining nuclear weapons. The lab also operates a national high-magnetic-field laboratory and works with other institutions including the Joint Genome Institute, which tackles genome mapping, DNA sequencing and related information science. Los Alamos also runs a research program in systems-biology modelling. "The lab is helping prevent pandemics, detecting and disabling improvised explosive devices, and developing alternative energy sources," McMillan told physicsworld.com. "Today it leads research breakthroughs in areas as diverse as contributing to a possible AIDS vaccine and to fuel cell energy storage developments that could cut costs and speed commercialization. One of my goals is to build on these strengths to enhance the lab for the future."
"I have great optimism for the future," said McMillan. "This is a complicated time but also a time of great opportunity for the program, an opportunity to work with the Administration to shape tomorrow’s nuclear security complex while effectively managing the nuclear stockpile along the way. The service we provide to the nation is as important now as it ever was."
Summing up his philosophy on how science is best managed, McMillan quoted from the collection of Lewis Thomas essays, Lives of a Cell: "What [research] needs is for the air to be made right. If you want a bee to make honey, you do not issue protocols on solar navigation or carbohydrate chemistry, you put him together with other bees . . . and you do what you can to arrange the general environment around the hive. If the air is right, the science will come in its own season, like pure honey."
McMillan also serves as President and CEO of Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the Laboratory’s managing and operating contractor.
Dr. Charles F. McMillan presented a lecture on: "The Timeline of Technology", offering examples of how innovations in the 20th century are used in this century to solve national and global security, energy and environmental issues, on October 1, 2014, at Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy. He stressed the importance of Los Alamos to national security, and reflected on the last Divider nuclear test, on September 23, 1992, in Operation Julin.