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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • NNSA awards $4M for STEM education

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it has awarded $4 million in grants to 22 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and six Department of Energy sites in key science, technology, engineering and mathematics areas.
    The funding launches NNSA’s new Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program, a consortium program organized to build a sustainable STEM pipeline between DOE plants and laboratories and HBCUs
    The MSIPP is designed to enrich the STEM capabilities of HBCUs in a sustainable manner that aligns with the broad interests of DOE sites and emphasizes the entire career pipeline.
    The partnership also provides STEM students with the cutting edge resources and technology housed at DOE facilities, ultimately increasing STEM student retention.  
    “Hands-on participation in research is imperative for students in the STEM field,” said Dimitri Kusnezov, NNSA’s chief scientist. “The MSIPP will provide an opportunity for students to be exposed to state-of-the-art facilities and research, creating an opportunity to expand their knowledge and further prepare them for a career in STEM fields.”
    To achieve MSIPP’s goal, teams consisting of participants from select HBCUs and DOE plants and laboratories were developed.

  • Curiosity Power Source wins DOE award

    A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory has received the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award for their contributions on the thermoelectric generator that provides electrical power and heat to the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover.
    The award was presented by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to Craig Van Pelt, Alejandro Enriquez, Diane Spengler, John Matonic and David Armstrong Oct. 4, in Washington D.C. The Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award is typically given to recognize a group or team of employees who together accomplished significant achievements on behalf of DOE.
    Powering a rover as sophisticated as Curiosity is made possible through the Plutonium-238 fueled Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, which was successful in part due to the Los Alamos National Laboratory employees who worked on this project.
    The MMRTG keeps the rover’s battery charged night and day, giving Curiosity the potential of being the longest-operating, farthest-traveling, most-productive Mars surface mission in history.

  • Curiosity Power Source Wins DOE Award

    A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory has received the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award for their contributions on the thermoelectric generator that provides electrical power and heat to the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover.

    The award was presented by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to Craig Van Pelt, Alejandro Enriquez, Diane Spengler, John Matonic, and David Armstrong Oct. 4, in Washington D.C. The Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award is typically given to recognize a group or team of employees who together accomplished significant achievements on behalf of DOE.

    Powering a rover as sophisticated as Curiosity is made possible through the Plutonium-238 fueled Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), which was successful in part due to the Los Alamos National Laboratory employees who worked on this project.

    The MMRTG keeps the rover's battery charged night and day, giving Curiosity the potential of being the longest-operating, farthest-traveling, most-productive Mars surface mission in history.

  • Space travelers could assist in healing nuclear scar

    Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory have devised a method to use cosmic rays to gather detailed information from inside the damaged cores of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, which were heavily damaged in March 2011 by a tsunami that followed a great earthquake.

    In a paper in Physical Review Letters, researchers compared two methods for using cosmic-ray radiography to gather images of nuclear material within the core of a reactor similar to Fukushima Daiichi Reactor No. 1. The team found that Los Alamos’ scattering method for cosmic ray radiography was far superior to the traditional transmission method for capturing high-resolution image data of potentially damaged nuclear material.

    “Within weeks of the disastrous 2011 tsunami, Los Alamos’ Muon Radiography Team began investigating use of Los Alamos’ muon scattering method to determine whether it could be used to image the location of nuclear materials within the damaged reactors,” said Konstantin Borozdin of Los Alamos’ Subatomic Physics Group and lead author of the paper.

  • NMCF report digs deep on settlement

    The Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Association, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Environment Department are in the midst of negotiating the termination of the 2007 Settlement Agreement and Stipulated Final Order (Chromium Settlement).

    Officials, however, have refused comment on the progress of the negotiations.

    Here is a little background:

    In 2007, NMED reached a settlement with LANL over the lab’s failure to report chromium contamination in a monitoring well. The department said the lab paid a $251,870 penalty as part of the settlement.

    “This enforcement action should remind the operators of LANL that they have a duty to report significant environmental contamination to the state and residents promptly,” Environment Secretary Ron Curry said at the time. “Chromium contamination is a serious issue.”

    The department had accused the lab’s operators, Los Alamos National Security LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy, of violating LANL’s hazardous waste permit and a 2005 consent order that governs environmental cleanup activities by failing to report increases of chromium in a groundwater monitoring well in 2004.

  • Neutron research shapes drug design 

    Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have used neutron crystallography for the first time to determine the structure of a clinical drug in complex with its human target enzyme.

    Seeing the detailed structure of the bonded components provides insights into developing more effective drugs with fewer side effects for patients.

    The atomic details of drug binding have been largely unknown due to the lack of key information on specific hydrogen atom positions and hydrogen bonding between the drug and its target enzyme. In this research, scientists used the drug acetazolamide (AZM) — a sulfonamide drug that has been used for decades to treat a variety of diseases such as glaucoma, altitude sickness and epilepsy. But when the drug binds with the wrong form (called an isoform) of the target enzyme for the disease, it can produce unpleasant side effects in patients (so called “off-target” drug binding).

    Enter neutron crystallography — the use of neutron scattering to paint a picture of these bonds.

    By providing precise information on hydrogen bonding between target enzymes and the treatment drugs (carbon anhydrase II targeted by AZM in this study), the research enables improvements in targeted binding with fewer side effects.

  • NNMC honors LANL’s Marquez

    Los Alamos National Laboratory Executive Director Richard Marquez is the namesake for a new leadership and service  award at Northern New Mexico College in Española.

    “I am honored and humbled by this recognition from Northern New Mexico College,” Marquez said. “I have been fortunate with regard to my education and career with opportunities and mentors. I believe in paying it forward and I am optimistic that this award will shed light on all of the other people who donate time and resources to making Northern New Mexico a better place.”

    The creation of the Richard Marquez Leadership and Service Award was announced by Northern New Mexico College President Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo at a foundation dinner Sept. 29 in Española. In addition to recognizing Marquez, the award will be conferred to others in future years for outstanding leadership and service.

  • Opening new doors

    Santana Garcia-Chang and Francisco “Kiko” Rael, formerly of Questa, have a new home: Los Alamos and they love it.

    They also have the seeds of careers at Los Alamos National Laboratory — thanks to a helping hand from a scholarship fund started by lab employees and run by the LANL Foundation.

    Garcia-Chang and Rael hang out with scientists and engineers. Rael enjoys playing pickup soccer at the community field.

    They visit Mesa Public Library and the Fuller Lodge Art Center.

    “Los Alamos feels like a small town that’s tight-knit and ideal for families, and still has cultural things to do,” Garcia-Chang says. “It’s our home.”

    Their days are busy: caring for their toddler son, Javan, working at Los Alamos National Laboratory where she is an intern and he is a full-time contractor and studying for college classes. But their eyes are on the prize of careers in environmental/civil engineering and health physics for radiation protection.

  • NMCF’s removal raises ruckus

    Some activists are none too happy that the New Mexico Community Foundation has been asked by the Department of Energy to relinquish its responsibility as outreach coordinator and database manager of the Intellus NM Project.

    But in the ultimate of ironies, Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, who has filed two suits against DOE in relation to the CMRR project, oddly lands on the side of the government regarding this issue.

    “We never thought it was a good idea for the New Mexico Community Foundation (NMCF) to undertake the RACER work, and I spent a couple of hours with them about eight years ago trying to talk them out of it,” Mello said. “To our eyes, there was no reason for NMCF to do that work and many strong reasons not to do it. We thought NMCF should stick to its primary mission rather than undertake work for LANL’s operating contractor as an operating foundation on contract.”

    Mello said the RACER program at NMCF set up serious conflicts of interests with NMCF grantees then-current and prospective and the RACER program led to “community meetings” in which NMCF “was used as a forum for NMED and LANL regulatory issues — again inappropriately in our view.”

  • NNSA pursues PF-4 scrutiny

    The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and the National Nuclear Security Administration have been going back and forth regarding the seismic integrity of LANL’s Plutonium Facility.

    In a letter to DNFSB Chairman Peter Winokur from NNSA's top security official, DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman, he tells Winokur the NNSA and LANL have been working methodically to evaluate PF-4 to understand how the facility would perform if subjected to an earthquake.,

    “This effort has already resulted in several structural improvements to assure the safe operations of PF-4. As part of a deliberative process outlined in national consensus codes and standards, NNSA and LANL have progressed from relatively simple calculations and modeling approaches to more sophisticated methods (referred to as static nonlinear pushover analysis), to provide additional detail and confidence that we have identified all the facility structural elements that require upgrading.

    "The initial results of the nonlinear pushover analysis are complete and have undergone an independent peer review. The final report thoroughly/documenting the methodology and the results will be issued as soon as the peer review comments are addressed,” Poneman wrote.