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Senior Research Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

David A. Atkinson is a senior research scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is the technical lead for explosives detection at PNNL, and is the manager of the CBE (Chem/Bio/Explosives) project portfolio account. He provides overall leadership for PNNL's technical strategy in explosives detection, as well as advises government clients and end-users, provides input for national policy making, and assists in laboratory multi-disciplinary program building. He also provides leadership in business development across the diverse CBE program space.

Atkinson holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Washington State University, where he designed advanced chemical detection systems. He has worked in trace chemical detector development and deployment in the DOE National Laboratory complex over the last two decades, with a specific emphasis on explosives detection. However, he has also proposed and performed research in diverse topical areas across the CBE discipline such as in chemical warfare agent detection, radiochemical separations, biological agent detection, and radiation detection. He has participated in all aspects of R&D, from performing fundamental research (and publishing the results), to doing testing/evaluation, to deploying equipment in the field and training end users, as well as marketing the capabilities and managing the business development.

Atkinson has spent much of his career working to enhance explosives detection, and this application dominates his presentations at large conferences and international meetings. He has done many years of work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on applying detection instrumentation to aviation security (airport explosives detection), and is funded by DHS to provide technical guidance on explosive detection equipment.


  • –present
    Senior Research Scientist and Manager for Chem/Bio/Explosives Project, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory