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Career Stories

Explore a dimensional career at Los Alamos Lab: Take a look at who is working here and what they are doing to have a fulfilling career and balanced work/life.
  • Michelle Ferran—Painting from the heart

    Michelle Ferran—Painting from the heart

    The Lab’s Michelle Ferran used to stack her vibrant watercolor paintings under her bed. But when she finally gained enough confidence to participate in the Española Valley Arts Festival’s poster contest in 2001, one of her paintings immediately won first prize. - 6/30/15

  • Max Schulze

    Max Schulze—Extreme unicycling

    The unicycle that Los Alamos student intern Max Schulze and his brother had given their dad for Father’s Day in 2005 did not get much use until Schulze tried it and got hooked. Today, he is a three-time unicycling world champion, with world wins in New Zealand in 2010, Italy in 2012 and Canada in 2014. - 6/9/15

  • Denise Neudecker

    Denise Neudecker—A different kind of culture shock

    Working with the Laboratory’s nuclear experimentalists provides the Theoretical Division’s Denise Neudecker with insights into their research, and she also looks to the experimentalists to shed light on previous approaches to nuclear experiments. - 5/18/15

  • Jason Halladay

    Jason Halladay—Ascending one of the world's highest active volcanoes

    At 1:00 a.m. on a June 2014 trip, the Network and Infrastructure Engineering Division’s Jason Halladay and four of his rock climbing and mountaineering friends, including Aron Ralston of “127 hours” fame, step from a rental van into the darkness and howling winds of a barren parking lot 15,092 ft high in South America's Andes mountain range. - 5/4/15

  •  Alessandro Cattaneo

    Alessandro Cattaneo—One thing leads to another

    The first time the Laboratory’s post-doctoral mechanical engineer Alessandro Cattaneo arrived in the United States from his native Italy, he was a regular tourist taking a road trip through the American West with three Italian friends. - 4/12/15

  • Sim Balkey

    Sim Balkey—On the way up

    The “kid who has the goods” has been quite busy lately. Just ahead of the MusicRow review he celebrated the release of his new CD, Messin’ Around, with a CD release party in Albuquerque on March 13, and before then he was in the national limelight performing in Nashville on February 24. - 4/6/15

  • Dana Dattelbaum with two-stage gas gun

    Inspiring Women: Dana Dattelbaum

    Dana Dattelbaum’s experiments in shock sensitivity and dynamics of explosives support simulations of nuclear weapons performance and enhance the safety of the nation’s nuclear stockpile. - 4/1/15

  • Jenna Casias

    Inspiring Women: Jenna Casias

    Working with organizations to bring together other women at the Lab in construction, maintenance and project management so there’s not only a support system for those already doing the work, but there’s outreach as well. - 3/26/15

  • Denise Thronas

    Denise Thronas—Balancing family, pueblo life and a career

    Denise Thronas lives in Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly San Juan) and during her morning drive to Los Alamos often reflects on how the women in her family have balanced their family and community life with the ability to seek varying levels of education and earn a living. - 3/23/15

  • Becky Olinger

    Inspiring Women: Becky Olinger

    Olinger considers explosives work “the coolest thing ever,” but she loves to share the many career options in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields with rural middle- and high school students. - 3/20/15

  • Harshini Mukundan

    Faces of Science: Harshini Mukundan

    Mukundan's ultimate goal is to develop better diagnostics for infectious disease, especially ones that have developed resistance to antibiotics, and to develop a global awareness for increasing drug-resistance. - 3/20/15

  • Elizabeth Miller

    Inspiring Women: Elizabeth Miller

    Elizabeth Miller, with Earth and Environmental Sciences, helps the Lab better understand the history of the area’s earthquakes and its potential seismic future. - 3/12/15

  • Janice Lovato

    Janice Lovato—A gift for imagination

    The Associate Directorate for Nuclear and High Hazard Operations’ Janice Lovato has turned her love for nature-watching and story-telling into writing a children’s book called Germaine the Beetle. - 3/10/15

  • Susan Hanson

    Faces of Science: Susan Hanson

    Designing less expensive and sustainable catalysts may revolutionize industry - 3/4/15

  • Rashi Iyer

    Faces of Science: Rashi Iyer

    Iyer has had a fervent passion for protecting the environment and limiting our impact on all living organisms since a child. Iyer always has been a strong advocate for the role of science and technology in the advancement of women globally. - 3/4/15

  • Amy Bauer

    Faces of Science: Amy Bauer

    Amy Bauer switched careers from mathematics and finance to follow her passion and since has applied her skills to discovering novel therapeutics for cancer, determining the effects of tuberculosis infection on AIDS, and issues related to national security. - 3/4/15

  • Amy Clarke

    Faces of Science: Amy Clarke

    Amy Clarke finds it ironic that scientists can be perceived as overly practical, when it is creativity that drives the design of advanced materials. Today, Amy harnesses such ingenuity to develop materials important to applications in energy, defense and industry. - 3/4/15

  • Richard Sayre

    Faces of Science: Richard Sayre

    Richard Sayre cites his father as his greatest influence. “He and I built cars and experimented with solar cells—not always successfully but always with great fun and passion.” Richard works on engineering biofuel production systems and addressing global food-security challenges.ansportation. - 3/4/15

  • Tom Vestrand

    Faces of Science: Tom Vestrand

    Tom Vestrand has always been interested in how the universe began, how it will end, and the nature of its early, violent history. At Los Alamos, he has worked on developing fully autonomous “thinking telescopes” that catch gamma-ray bursts—the biggest explosions since the Big Bang. - 3/4/15

  • Tim Germann

    Faces of Science: Tim Germann

    Says Tim Germann, “It’s reassuring when nature behaves as you expect it to, but even more exciting when it surprises you, which is often the case in science.” Such surprises are common for Tim, who plays a role in the future designs of computers and software.tion. - 3/4/15

  • Sara Del Valle

    Faces of Science: Sara Del Valle

    Sara Del Valle grew up watching her parents—who were missionaries—tend to people suffering from infectious disease. These experiences, coupled with her passion for mathematics, led Sara to develop computer models to study communicable illnesses. - 3/4/15

  • Roger Wiens

    Faces of Science: Roger Wiens

    As a kid, Roger Wiens built model rockets and even a telescope. Today, Wiens fuels his passion for space by contributing to technology that is helping to explore Mars. - 3/4/15

  • Nate McDowell

    Faces of Science: Nate McDowell

    Nate McDowell has always been in awe of plants and their tenacity for survival. Today, Nate applies his extensive background in biochemistry and physiology to study where, when, and how vegetation dies during droughts caused by climate change. - 3/4/15

  • Michelle Espy

    Faces of Science: Michelle Espy

    While taking physics in high school, Michelle Espy realized that scientific methods could be used to predict and understand things. Michelle has applied this knowledge to develop sensitive magnetic sensors that measure brain function and detect liquid bombs. - 3/4/15

  • Karissa Sanbonmatsu

    Faces of Science: Karissa Sanbonmatsu

    For Karissa Sanbonmatsu, there is nothing more exciting than the moment of discovery, when only the discoverer has the answer to a special secret. One such secret Karissa is unraveling today is how DNA is reprogrammed during life. - 3/4/15

  • Juan Duque

    Faces of Science: Juan Duque

    Juan Duque’s passion for research stems from his fascination with building new things and learning how they work. His research in surface chemistry continues to feed this passion because, as Juan sees it, there are always new questions to answer. - 3/4/15

  • José Olivares

    Faces of Science: José Olivares

    José Olivares has always enjoyed figuring out how things work. At an early age, he tore an old television apart, made paper airplanes, and read Scientific American. Today, he leads the Bioscience Division and works on programs developing algae as a source of biofuel for energy and transportation. - 3/4/15

  • John Gordon

    Faces of Science: John Gordon

    John Gordon remembers one high-school science class in which they discussed the chemistry of sugars. Today, he's interested in the use of carbohydrates not as a form of nutrition but as renewable and sustainable sources of hydrocarbon fuels. - 3/4/15

  • Joel Rowland

    Faces of Science: Joel Rowland

    Joel Rowland is fascinated with the natural world—that water, wind and sediment can be organized into spectacular patterns. Today, this passion drives him to study how climate change affects the shape and organization of landscapes dominated by permafrost. - 3/4/15

  • Glen Wurden

    Glen Wurden—What you can see from your driveway

    The Physics Division’s Glen Wurden marvels at celestial objects 300 trillion kilometers (180 million trillion—or 180 quintillion—miles) from his house. - 2/18/15

  • Bryant Roybal

    Bryant Roybal—Champion chile

    The Associate Directorate for Project Management’s Bryant Roybal has been a chile competition contestant ever since entering the Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights Cookoff in Red River in 2011 and immediately taking first prize. - 2/18/15

  • Elena Giorgi

    Elena Giorgi—Murder mysteries with a twist of science

    Chimeras is Giorgi’s first murder mystery, followed by Mosaics, and Gene Cards, a futuristic thriller that imagines a world without genetic privacy. - 2/18/15

  • Amy Ross

    Amy Ross—Helping kids soar high

    The Materials Science and Technology Division’s Amy Ross is a volunteer pilot and coordinator for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program. - 1/9/15

  • Phil and Monica Noll

    Phil & Monica Noll—Photography worthy of the Smithsonian

    One of Phil Noll’s photos received the honor of being shown at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. - 12/1/14

  • Christina Martos Hilton

    Christina Martos Hilton—The shared experience of music

    The Intelligence Analysis and Technology Division's Christina Martos Hilton studied opera with world-renowned opera singer Placido Domingo. - 11/5/14

  • A.J. Herrera

    A.J. Herrera—Coaching soccer as a family affair

    Angelo (A.J.) Herrera, by day a financial analyst in the Laboratory's Chief Financial Officer Division, was part of the U.S. Youth National Soccer Team from 1996 to 2000, including the Youth Olympics in Moscow, and today coaches soccer in his spare time. - 10/22/14

  • Sheila Armstrong

    Sheila Armstrong—Helping hospice patients and their loved ones say good-bye

    Sheila Armstrong of the X Theoretical Design Division began her Laboratory career in 1972 but in the 1990s took a break and trained to become a hospice volunteer. - 10/7/14

  • Darleen Vigil

    Darleen Vigil—Growing Chimayó chile

    As soon as Darleen Vigil comes home from a hard day’s work as a vendor liaison specialist in the Laboratory’s Network and Infrastructure Engineering Division, she heads into her garden to tend to her vegetables. - 9/23/14

  • Ron Barber

    Ron Barber—The hobby that got out of hand

    Ron Barber, a mechanical engineer in the Laboratory’s Accelerator Operations and Technology Division, combines his love of nature and open spaces with a personal interest in researching the astronomical knowledge of long-ago civilizations that once inhabited the American Southwest. - 9/9/14

  • Michael Torrez

    Michael Torrez—Tracing family lineages to Colonial New Mexico

    Michael Torrez, by day a research technologist in the Laboratory's Materials Physics and Applications Division, spends much of his free time researching New Mexico's family histories. - 8/26/14

  • Jon Engle

    Jonathan Engle—Saving lives with nuclear energy

    Jonathan (Jon) Engle, Reines Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow at the Laboratory, is helping lay the scientific groundwork for a new and improved cancer treatment that uses the energy produced by radioactive isotopes. - 8/14/14

  • Helicopter releasing red fire retardant

    Kristen Honig—The evolution of a wildfire photographer

    Honig realized that she wanted to document the beauty and destructiveness of wildfires and the sacrifices, challenges and camaraderie of the men and women protecting communities in the path of scorching blazes. - 6/24/14

  • José Valdez

    José Valdez—Cherishing classic cars

    Find José Valdez in his garage, intensely focused on his hobby of refurbishing classic cars, preferably from the 1930s to early 1960s. - 6/24/14

  • Monika Bittman

    Monika Bittman—The vitality of artistic creation

    Monika Bittman has wanted to be an artist ever since she was a little girl in Prague, Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic. Today Bittman applies her creative eye and attention to detail in her work as a web designer at the Laboratory. - 6/2/14

  • Dave Keller

    Dave Keller—Sleepless in Los Alamos

    From the end of March into early May, Keller and the Laboratory’s other wildlife biologists monitor the Mexican Spotted Owl’s population size and locations and record noteworthy changes. - 6/2/14

  • Crystal J. Rodarte-Romero

    Crystal J. Rodarte-Romero—Engineering safer structures

    Los Alamos bridge engineer, Rodarte-Romero is a proud steward of the historic bridge and is honored to extend its life with design modifications and forthcoming modeling, including examining how the structure can withstand seismic shifts. - 3/31/14

  • Raeanna Sharp-Geiger

    Raeanna Sharp-Geiger—Creating a cleaner, greener environment

    Sharp-Geiger helps identify, evaluate and control chemical, physical, biological, radiological and environmental hazards. - 3/28/14

  • Jerri McTaggart

    Jerri McTaggart—Creating opportunities

    She is a scientist at the Los Alamos office in Carlsbad and helps small-quantity transuranic waste generators identify and solve problems. - 3/26/14

  • Katharine Page

    Katharine Page—Atomic-level insights for better materials

    Page's research supports materials' advances that could have wide-ranging impact, investigating, manipulating and manufacturing nano-particles. - 3/26/14

  • Barbara Tenorio-Grimes

    Barbara Tenorio-Grimes—Providing science opportunities to minorities

    A strong supporter of the benefits of education in science, math and engineering, she led development of the Lab’s educational outreach programs for K-12 students and teachers. - 3/24/14

  • Jacqueline Mirabal-Martinez

    Jacqueline Mirabal-Martinez—Boosting electrical safety performance

    The first woman to chair the Lab’s Electrical Safety Committee, she led her division to the highest level of excellence in electrical safety performance, exceeding the performance of 40 other divisions. - 3/22/14

  • Elizabeth Hunke

    Elizabeth Hunke—Piloting polar warning of climate change

    Hunke develops advanced ocean and ice models for evaluating the role of ocean and ice in climate change and projecting the impact of such change globally. - 3/20/14

  • Kathy Prestridge

    Kathy Prestridge—Physics' solutions for energy independence

    She leads a team whose high-resolution experiments in fluid dynamics have been applied to weapon design, astrophysics and inertial confinement fusion (ICF)—the power of the sun. - 3/19/14

  • Antonya Sanders

    Antonya Sanders—Promoting nanoscience integration through outreach

    Bringing together university faculty, students, researchers and other Laboratory scientists to explore nanoscale science. - 3/17/14

  • Cheryl Kuske

    Cheryl Kuske—Microbiology expertise aids in biothreat detection

    She is an environmental microbiologist who built a world-renowned Los Alamos research program targeting complex microbial communities in the environment. - 3/14/14

  • Becky Chamberlin

    Becky Chamberlin—Overcoming gender bias in science

    A nuclear forensics chemist and nonproliferation expert, Chamberlin is helping bring forward a more comprehensive effort on the science of detecting nuclear weapons development. - 3/11/14

  • Marianne Francois

    Marianne Francois—Scientific modeling of materials and climate

    Her ability to model the complexity of nuclear weapons systems through advanced numerical methods play an important role in supporting nonproliferation efforts. - 3/11/14

  • Elaine Santantonio

    Elaine Santantonio—Creating an efficient cyber workplace

    She improved communication and increased efficiency by helping put mobile devices into the hands of Lab employees. - 3/11/14

  • Dianne Williams Wilburn

    Dianne Williams Wilburn—Creating her own destiny

    Having monitored environmental compliance for New Mexico State and analyzed water chemistry for a nuclear power plant in Virginia, Wilburn is well versed in environmental health and radiation safety. - 3/11/14

  • Amy Bauer

    Amy Bauer—Problem-solving fuels passion

    She works on a broad range of nuclear counterterrorism projects, including post-detonation nuclear forensics. - 3/11/14

  • Alina Deshpande

    Alina Deshpande—Strengthening the fight against pandemics

    She is dedicated to strengthening the world’s fight against infectious diseases by providing new tools for early detection and mitigation of disease outbreaks. - 3/10/14

  • Wendee Brunish

    Wendee Brunish—So that others may live

    At work, this Lab astrophysicist spends long hours searching the planet for concealed weapons of mass destruction. - 3/10/14

  • Zoe Martin's fusion quest: a stellar future

    Physicist Zoe Martin's fusion quest: a stellar future

    From revealing radiation hydrodynamics to creating energy, physics student pursues science’s boundaries. - 8/27/13

  • Military students access top R&D

    Military students access top R&D

    Cadets and midshipmen spend summer expanding their scientific knowledge at world-class Los Alamos facilities - 8/27/13

  • Ian Stone

    Stone's code reveals Earth’s processes

    The returning student researches carbon sequestration to determine the best methods to capture the greenhouse gas that increases global warming. - 8/27/13

  • Alexis Kaplan

    Collaboration inspires nuclear engineering student Alexis Kaplan

    Researcher designs a system that improves nuclear energy security - 8/27/13

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    Nanoscientist Ayesha Arefin has heart

    Student researcher helps construct bioethical artificial human organs and develop methods to improve toxicology and disease research. - 8/27/13

  • Tarryn Miller: Fueling biofuel’s promise

    Tarryn Miller: Fueling biofuel’s promise

    Student intern driven to develop cyanobacteria as viable carbon-neutral energy source. - 8/27/13

  • Adam Syare

    Hazmat work opens up career options for Adam Sayre, agricultural economist

    Agricultural economics undergraduate works behind the scenes to ensure quality work on gloveboxes used for hazardous materials. - 8/3/12

  • David Parkinson

    Nuclear energy field fascinates David Parkinson, chemical engineer

    Chemical engineer undergraduate designs and tests a separator used in processing plutonium. - 8/3/12

  • James Miller

    Ideal balance of work, play makes outdoor enthusiast's James Miller life enviable

    Nuclear engineer graduate research assistant gets valueable experience while taking advantage of local outdoor recreational activities. - 8/2/12

  • Patricia Langan

    Inspiration from world-class scientists leads Patricia Langan to nanoscience

    Graduate research assistant discovered her passion while interning as an undergraduate student in the Bioscience Division. - 8/1/12

  • Daniela Moody

    Science theory and practical applications both avenues at LANL for Daniela Moody, Postdoc

    "I love working with like-minded people, and the eclectic combination of educational and cultural backgrounds of everyone on my team truly fosters scientific growth." - 7/31/12

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    Working to keep us safe: Sara Brambilla, Postdoc creates threat reduction tools

    Chemical engineer postdoc experiences a foreign culture while working on resources that respond to weapons of mass destruction and natural threats. - 7/18/12

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    Hands-on environmental stewardship deepens Erica Garcia, civil engineer, experience

    Civil engineer undergraduate spends time in the field sampling water quality for the Lab. - 7/17/12

  • Bikers (and LANL Postdocs) Brent and Pam in Los Alamos canyon riding hard on the trail

    World class recreation, bold science

    Los Alamos employees enjoy access to a network of 100+ miles of high-quality trails, much of it within walking distance from key Lab facilities or from residents’ front doors. - 4/3/12

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    Why Los Alamos?

    Real secrets related to Los Alamos have as much to do with quality of life as prosperity and stability. - 4/3/12


Innovations for a secure nation

Portable MRI aids wounded soldiers, children in remote areas

Portable MRI aids wounded soldiers, children in remote areas

Scientists are developing an ultra-low-field Magnetic Resonance Imaging system that could be low-power and lightweight enough for forward deployment on the battlefield and to field hospitals in the World's poorest regions.  

» All Innovations

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