Image showing Lethbridge-Çejku's photo and the words Women in Nuclear Security, NNSA Employee Spotlight, Amy Bauer, Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation. #womenshistorymonth

How do you support NNSA?

I support the NNSA Ukraine Task Force (UTF) as part of my job in the Office of Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation. The purpose of the UTF is to prevent, prepare for, and minimize the consequences of any nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine, and to restore elements of Ukraine’s nuclear and radiological security impacted by the war. Within the UTF, I lead the effort to establish, sustain, and evolve capabilities to remotely and rapidly acquire data to deter and prevent nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine, and to inform senior leaders in case a nuclear incident occurs. Before entering the federal workforce in 2022, I was a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory supporting global security missions, including serving as a responder for nuclear emergencies. I also supported the Office of Defense Programs’ efforts to maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile by designing subcritical experiments and hydrodynamic tests.

 

Amy Bauer dressed in skiing gear, poses on a steep slope of snow. She is holding downhill ski poles in her hand and smiling. Her skis are stuck in the snow behind her.
Amy Bauer spends a lot of time on the slopes and on the snow.

What is your personal background, and how has that shaped you and your approach to your career? 

My parents divorced when I was very young, and both my mom and my dad moved around a lot when I was a kid. I’d spend the school year with my mom and the summers with my dad. As a result, I frequently found myself adapting to new circumstances. Those experiences have made me adept at working well with uncertainty and rapidly changing situations, a mindset that serves me well in my current role. More broadly though those experiences have given me the confidence to take on new challenges professionally and take risks with my career, which ultimately led me to NNSA!

What did you study in school and how did it impact you personally and professionally?

My parents were deeply rooted in their experiences of economic struggle, as they grew up during times of scarcity and uncertainty following World War II. They encouraged me to pursue a degree in business in the hopes I’d make a stable income. There was no talk of following your passion. I was working as a tax consultant for a big firm and hated the thought of doing that for the rest of my life. So, without my dad’s blessing, I left a perfectly good job to follow my passion and went back to school to pursue my Ph.D. in mathematics. I’ve always seen math as a type of golden ticket since it can be found everywhere. It’s in art, music, nature, engineering, economics, and obviously, science! No regrets!

I left a perfectly good job to follow my passion and went back to school to pursue my Ph.D. in mathematics. I’ve always seen math as a type of golden ticket since it can be found everywhere. It’s in art, music, nature, engineering, economics, and obviously, science! No regrets!

Amy Bauer
NNSA Supervisory Program Analyst

What led you to a career in nuclear security?

Really, it found me. I was working on modeling tumor-induced angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and was recruited into the Los Alamos weapons program to apply similar mathematical approaches to solving problems in national security. I’ve always been motivated to work on solving any problem whose solutions would have significant impact. For me, working in national security is like being a kid in a candy store! 

What is the best part about your job?

Working with high-jumpers! I’m borrowing that term from my boss, mentor, and one of the highest jumpers I know. The people I get to work with on the UTF are some of the best at what they do, and I am humbled by their passion for the mission and tireless drive to get it right!

What is your proudest accomplishment while working at NNSA?

Working within the UTF and partnering with the NNSA national laboratories to create a new capability to address an emerging national security need during this real-world crisis. 

 

Tell us something interesting about yourself. 

I’m passionate about ski mountaineering and ski patrolling. I hold a National Ski Patrol National Appointment, am an Avalanche Safety Instructor, and was awarded the NSP Purple Star for saving a life. My passion for skiing also led me to create an annual 3-day ski weekend charity event that brought women together to share their interests in snow sports while raising money to support breast cancer patients. I basically spent a LOT of time in the mountains and on the snow!

Do you have any highlights from your time supporting NNSA? 

One that stands out was the opportunity to lead design efforts for the Red Sage Nightshade series of subcritical experiments. I had the opportunity to engage with many parts of the Nuclear Security Enterprise from Los Alamos, Nevada National Security Site – at both the federal and contractor level. I partnered closely with NNSA’s experts in engineering and assembly, plutonium and uranium material science, part fabrication, high explosives, weapons design codes, all sorts of diagnosticians (include radiologists and others), and the incredible team at the U1a complex (now known as PULSE: the Principal Underground Laboratory for Subcritical Experimentation). In every instance, I was incredibly impressed by the caliber of people that NNSA employs, and thankfully so in these “critical” mission spaces! These experiments were designed to obtain technical information about the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and support NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure the reliability of the stockpile now and in the future. The team was awarded the NNSA Defense Programs Award of Excellence for this work and it was my great privilege and honor to be a member of that team.

Amy Bauer poses with her downhill skis vertical on either side of her. She is dressed in a ski patrol outfit.
Amy Bauer's passion for skiing led her to create an annual charity event to bring women together to share their interests in snow sports while raising money to support breast cancer patients.

What advice would you have for anyone interested in a career in nuclear security? 

The threat landscape has become increasingly complex and challenging in new and unprecedented ways, and a broad range of skillsets are needed to develop insightful, creative, and revolutionary solutions to ensure our national security. My advice? We need all hands on deck! Get involved!

Who is someone that inspires you and why?

I’m always very inspired by those who speak out against injustice and/or stand up for what they believe, especially when circumstances make that difficult, uncomfortable, or unpopular to do so. We need more people like that in the world. I’m inspired by:

  • My mom because she sacrificed a lot while raising me as a single parent.
  • My husband because he is driven and tireless in his pursuit of fusion energy science. 
  • Daisaku Ikeda, who dedicated his life to something he so strongly believed in through much adversity and said:

    “The problems confronting humankind are daunting in their depth and complexity. While it may be hard to see where to begin―or how―we must never give in to cynicism or paralysis. We must each initiate action in the direction we believe to be right. We must refuse the temptation to passively accommodate ourselves to present realities and embark upon the challenge of creating a new reality.“

    “Peace is not simply a matter of living a quiet, detached or carefree life. Peace exists in action―courageously, nonviolently fighting against the injustice that makes people suffer. It is only in such action that we find peace. When the majority of people lose the will to resist injustice and become indifferent and apathetic, it may be said that society starts to tilt in the direction of war.”

How do you plan to celebrate/commemorate Women’s History Month?

With my two daughters! I am so grateful to have them in my life. They make me a better person, and I want to make the world a better place for them to grow up and thrive in. 

Does this celebration have special meaning to you?

Having studied and worked in male-dominated fields, I am so inspired by the women who have paved the way for our success and the future success of our daughters, including Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Katherine Johnson, Amanda Gorman, and the women and men today who continue to advocate for equality and diversity.