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Faces of Science

Meet the scientists behind the science at Los Alamos. Many of them felt a calling to science at an early age...now they work at a world-class research facility where childhood dreams may become reality.

FACES OF SCIENCE The people behind our science

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MATHEMATICS

Polish scientist Stanislaw Ulam found “learning arithmetic mildly painful” as a child. Ironically Ulam developed the Monte Carlo method while recovering from brain inflammation.

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RENEWABLE FUELS

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.
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MODELING/SIMULATION

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.
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FUTURE OF COMPUTERS

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.
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BIOSCIENCE/HEALTH

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.
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SPACE

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.
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CHEMICAL SCIENCE

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.
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PHYSICS

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.
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CLIMATE CHANGE

Childhood trips through the deserts and forests of America impressed upon Park Williams the immense importance water has on life. One of Park’s current projects focuses on how future climate change will affect water availability for America’s forests.
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PHYSICS

Politely told that she should follow more feminine pursuits, Leona Woods graduated from high school at 14, received a Bachelor of Science degree at 19, and at 23 joined the all-male team led by Enrico Fermi working on developing the world’s first artificial nuclear reactor.
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NANOMATERIALS

Amit Misra finds that “each discovery brings a sense of accomplishment but also rejuvenates our passion by presenting new problems to explore.” Thus, he is driven by a quest for scientific knowledge that can never end.
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METALLURGY

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.
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EARTH SCIENCES

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.
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NANOSCIENCE

Rashi 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.
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PHYSICS

Regarding the nature of scientific discovery, Enrico Fermi noted, “There are two possible outcomes: If the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.”
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CLIMATE CHANGE

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.
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MATERIALS

Susan Hanson remembers that one of her teachers would say that chemistry is “the central science” because it is helpful for solving diverse problems. One of Susan’s current projects involves replacing precious-metal catalysts with earth-abundant materials.
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BIOFUELS

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.
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BIOFOODS/BIOFUELS

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.
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DESIGN PHYSICS

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.
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SPACE PHYSICS

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.
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PHYSICS/COMPUTER SCIENCE

Nicholas Metropolis summarized his experience at Los Alamos: “Undoubtedly, this was the most marvelous experience a scientist, young or old, could have ever imagined. All the great minds in science were assembled here or visited frequently. The experience was electrifying.”
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Innovations for a secure nation

Lab team makes unique contributions to the first bionic eye

Lab team makes unique contributions to the first bionic eye

The Argus II will help people blinded by the rare hereditary disease retinitis pigmentosa or seniors suffering from severe macular degeneration.

» All Innovations

Calendars

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Los Alamos, NM 87545

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