As a growing number of women and minorities pursue careers in STEM, NNSA along with its labs, plants, and sites is actively expanding its outreach to recruit, mentor, and support a growing pool of talent to lead the Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE). More than 6,000 people are expected to retire from the NNSA, so there is a need and a desire for a more diverse workforce. This isn’t just a numbers game. Diversity adds perspectives and viewpoints that are valuable to achieving objectives and carrying out the NSE’s vital national security missions.
The NSE needs the best and the brightest to bring solutions to critical issues that continue to evolve. That comes by drawing from diverse groups of talented individuals – individuals who become integral to the NSE like Siddharth Komini Babu of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Olivia Underwood of Sandia National Laboratories.
Siddharth Komini Babu, an early career researcher at LANL, recently received an Electrochemical Society Award from Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for Projects in Green Energy Technology. “We’re proud that one of our early-career researchers has received a fellowship that recognizes the importance of using science and technology to advance green energy solutions,” said Deputy Laboratory Director John Sarrao.
Once part of Sandia National Laboratories’ post-doctoral class of appointees, materials scientist Olivia Underwood received pre-pandemic recognition as part of the gifted group of young people honored in Albuquerque Business First’s 40 Under Forty in 2019. Now, as Sandia’s product realization team lead, Underwood manages the technical and programmatic aspects for components throughout the product lifecycle.
There are other stories like that of Komini Babu and Underwood, and the NSE hopes to add many more. Attracting those who have been underrepresented is an imperative. Candidates that have not often seen themselves in the national security positions are finding space in this environment thanks to growing representation and efforts like NNSA’s Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP) among others. “MSIPP works to create and foster a sustainable STEM-pipeline that prepares a diverse workforce of world-class talent through strategic partnerships between minority serving institutions and the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” said Marcus Lea at a recent career day for MSI students. NNSA’s priority is to continue to strengthen key science, technology, and engineering capabilities, and enhance its career and leadership pipeline to build a more robust and diverse workforce.