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Nugent is the Department Head for Computational Science and the Division Deputy for Scientific Engagement in the Computational Research Division. Nugent attended Bowdoin College and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics with a concentration in astronomy from the University of Oklahoma. He joined LBNL in 1996 as a postdoctoral fellow working with Saul Perlmutter on the measurement of the accelerating universe with Type Ia Supernova, for which Dr. Perlmutter received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011. In 2008, he co-founded the Computational Cosmology Center and became their first Group Leader. He was promoted to Senior Staff Scientist at LBNL in 2010 and the same year joined the faculty in the Astronomy Department at UC Berkeley.
Nugent is an author on over 300 refereed publications and has received numerous awards in his career including LBNL's Director’s Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and NERSC's Award for Innovative Use of High-Performance Computing in 2013, SuperComputing's 2009 Storage Challenge Award, the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Physics. Nugent has presented his work as a participant on PBS News Hour, NASA's Space Science Update program, CNN, NOVA, NPR, and the BBC. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Science, and Nature.