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Lynn G. Seppala

Lynn Seppala
Lynn G. Seppala

Distinguished Engineer

Hometown: Watertown


Lynn Seppala was a Briggs Scholar while earning his degree at South Dakota State University. He went on to receive a doctorate from the University of Rochester in 1974. Seppala was a world-leading designer of state-of-the-art optics for pure and applied science. He has led the optical design of billion-dollar projects at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, including the 192-laser-beam National Ignition Facility, which will produce the first-ever-in-laboratory thermonuclear ignition; the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will map out dark matter and unravel dark energy’s nature and a photon collider that will advance studies in precision physics. In mid-career, he suffered a massive stroke which paralyzed his right side and seriously affected his speech and cognitive abilities. With uncommon courage and determination, he overcame or compensated for the losses. Regaining speech and cognitive abilities, he retained his position as chief optical designer, performing at even higher levels. He was named the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Rochester’s Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2011 and was honored as an SDSU Distinguished Alumnus in 2012. He has over 40 published papers, six patents and two R and D Magazine’s R and D 100 Awards.