Larry Avens received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Tennessee Tech University in 1978 and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University in 1982. Following graduate school he went directly to Los Alamos and spent most of his career at the Los Alamos National Laboratory plutonium facility studying basic and applied chemistry of the actinide elements. Dr. Avens is widely published and has several patents in the chemistry, chemical separation and physical separation of the actinide elements.
From 1994 through 2000 Dr. Avens managed the research group at the Los Alamos plutonium facility. This group designed and installed the ARIES pit disassembly system. This group also managed the R&D program that developed technologies used to stabilize nuclear materials stalled in the U.S nuclear weapons manufacturing pipeline at the end of the Cold War. In 2000 Avens moved to the Nonproliferation and International Security Division where he led the Fissile Material Transparency Technology Demonstration. The demo measured radiation emanating from a U.S. nuclear weapon component in the presence of a Russian Federation delegation. In 2008 Dr. Avens returned to his home state of Tennessee where he managed programs supporting the Global Security Directorate of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Avens again returned to the Los Alamos plutonium facility in 2015 where he managed pit disassembly, plutonium 238 operations and uranium disposition. He retired from Los Alamos in 2021 and returned to Tennessee where he works as a contract employee for Strategic Management Solutions.