Tarter is the Director Emeritus of the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and was the eighth director to lead the Laboratory since it was founded in 1952. A theoretical physicist by training and experience, he has spent most of his career at the Laboratory. As director, he led the Laboratory in its mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important problems of our time.
He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. His career at the Livermore Laboratory began in 1967 as a staff member in the Theoretical Physics Division. As Director from 1994-2002 he led the Laboratory through the transition to a post-Cold War nuclear weapons world, helping to set the foundation for current programs in stewardship of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. He also worked to build the programs in nonproliferation and counter-terrorism, and in energy, environment, and bioscience.
Tarter has served in a number of outside professional capacities. These include a six-year-period with the Army Science Board, service as an adjunct professor at the University of California, Davis, and membership on the California Council on Science and Technology, the Laboratory Operations Board (Secretary of Energy Advisory Board), Pacific Council on International Policy, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Defense Science Board, and Draper Laboratory, member of the Corporation and the Board of Directors. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, received the Roosevelts Gold Medal Award for Science , NNSA Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, and the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary’s Gold Award.