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Los Alamos National Laboratory this summer attracted 1,350 student interns in both technical and nontechnical fields, giving them the opportunity to conduct research in a wide range of disciplines. In addition, a record number of postdocs – 452–are working at Los Alamos this year.
“Diverse people, new ideas, excellent work, that’s what the lab is about,” said Jerry Foropoulos, Jr. of High Explosives Science and Technology Division, a judge for the Laboratory’s 2011 Student Symposium, an event that showcases students’ summer projects.
“The students are a large part of the lab’s history, and should always be highly valued,” Foropoulos said. “Internships let the lab screen students for potential while offering the student a meaningful employment experience.”
This summer, the lab attracted students from some 280 colleges and universities from across the nation and around the world.
Afsheen Banisadr is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in biomedical engineering. Banisadr spent his summer under the mentorship of Elizabeth Hong-Geller and Kristy Lynne Nowak-Lovato in the Biosecurity and Public Health Division. There, Banisadr worked on a project that promoted better understanding of how proteins bind to specific sequences of DNA and how various compounds affect the expression of these genes. “LANL has provided me with a great experience both scientifically and socially,” Banisadr said.
Alicia Salazar of the Materials Science and Technology Division completed her fourth summer as a lab student. Salazar has worked for three different teams since joining the lab, most recently under the mentorship of Andy Nelson researching inert matrix fuels and determining their thermal physical properties. Salazar is a senior at New Mexico State University majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in nuclear energy.
Eli Chertkov took part in the High School Co-op program and now attends Princeton University. Chertkov has worked in the Decision Applications Division. There, Chertkov created a computer model of a supply chain that allowed him to identify weaknesses to help understand their potential resiliency. “At the lab, I’ve started to learn what research requires, and I’ve acquired useful experience with some concrete skills,” said Chertkov. “Conversations with my mentor, Russell Bent, were some of the most valuable and insightful I’ve ever had.”
Lindsey Reader has spent the past two summers working under Jeanne Fair in the Biosecurity and Public Health Division. Reader has dedicated her time to monitoring the Avian Nestbox Network — a system of nest boxes, or birdhouses, around Los Alamos County. The Network promises to be integral in gauging general ecological response to the Las Conchas Fire. Reader graduated from Mount Holyoke College where she earned a degree in biological sciences. She is now pursuing a doctorate in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology at the University of Utah.
The lab offers students a plethora of educational programs, competitions, and other activities through the Students’ Association, Community Programs Office, and other organizations.