A passion for physics, Zoe Martin, receives exposure to real-world science
Zoe Martin helps the Laboratory mission of nuclear deterrence
Zoe Martin, an undergraduate student, discovered her calling while working with the X-Theoretical Design (XTD) division. Zoe currently works with the Navy Systems group responsible for the physics design and assessment of stockpile systems, which serves the Laboratory’s mission of ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrence.
As a student of the University of New Mexico, Zoe was originally majoring in anthropology; however, as soon as she finished her first summer internship at the Lab she switched to physics. “Physics is such a big field and there is so much you can do. I felt it was a better opportunity,” said Zoe. She has been a student for four years now and will continue to return, explaining, “I learn more here at the Lab than I do my whole semester at school.”
Zoe has the opportunity to work with her mentor, Leslie Sherrill, a staff physicist in her group. “My mentor is awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor. She actually takes the time to explain and teach me relevant information in my field,” said Zoe. She also collaborates with other physicists in XTD division, as well as many of the code developers.
Currently, Zoe runs computer simulations to model a set of experiments completed on the OMEGA laser. She analyzes the simulations to inform the values that should be used for a set of mix model parameters, works on detailed comparisons to the experimental data, and helps define the mixing of the materials in the experiments. Zoe said, “My mentor assigned me to work on a reshock experiment, which is being included in a level two milestone at the end of the summer. I am also writing a paper that will be published. I’m pretty excited; not very many undergraduates get published.”
Last year, Zoe worked as a part of the National Ignition helping to design targets for National Ignition Facility (NIF), stating “This is one of the coolest things I’ve done here.” As one of the cornerstones of stockpile stewardship, the NIF is able to heat and compress matter to temperatures and densities unattainable anywhere else on earth.
Born and raised in Los Alamos, Zoe was fortunate to get an internship so close to home. She enjoys the New Mexico weather and loves outdoor activities, especially hiking. She also adores animals, especially dogs. She volunteers 5-6 hours a week for the Animal Humane New Mexico in Albuquerque. The Lab program, VolunteerMatch, encourages employees and students to give their time to local community efforts and helps match employee interests with communities' needs. At the Animal Humane Society, Zoe checks out dogs for the day and takes them hiking in the beautiful weather.
The Lab allows students to be mentored by the brightest scientists in their field of study. Zoe recommends an internship at the Lab, stating, “The Lab is helping me down my career path by giving me exposure to resources I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I am not just sitting in a classroom learning. I get to work in the physics field and experience it!”