Innovation & Inclusion

For over 75 years, women at Los Alamos National Laboratory have been a driving force for future female leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Operations. Learn about our diverse workforce and how their incredible contributions to national security and scientific excellence continue to keep us on a path of innovation and inclusion.

Meet the Community

Brittney McKinley

Brittney Ruby Lynn McKinley

IT Manager – Deputy Group Leader for Systems Analysis and Software Quality Assurance

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
The most exciting aspect of my job is the constant challenge. Many of our problems are complex in nature. Having worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory since October of 2004 in numerous and varied capacities, I always strive to bring my past experiences to bear in my current roles, constantly building my skill set and enhancing my ability identify creative solutions. Bringing knowledge of work execution and data related to a Craft workforce, for example, helps me to address technical innovation being implemented that can impact the diverse workforce at the Lab.

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
I began my career at the Lab in Accounts Payable. I encourage women to pursue their dreams, and understand that there is power in learning processes, organizations, and customers from the ground up, and by living in others’ shoes. It never hurts to diversify your portfolio of experience, especially to help you compete in any capacity here at the Lab. One of my managers once told me that “any job is yours to refuse” and that was in large part due to my goal to always have open and honest conversations with my boss so that my goals and career plans were clear to both of us.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
We have the great privilege of working in a government environment with some of the best talent in the world. Ultimately, the work and people I have built relationships with over the past 13 years keep my dedication strong to our united mission here at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Morag Smith

Morag K. Smith

Nuclear Physicist and Deputy Group Leader

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
Much of my research over the last few years has been in treaty verification, where often a simple measurement problem is placed in a political context where a simple solution can’t be used and the challenge is to solve the problem within the arms control rules.

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
My childhood enjoyment of puzzles led to nuclear physics, which in turn lead to arms control problems, which are just another kind of puzzle. Pulling in different interests let me recognize opportunities to do what I love when the connections were not obvious. Sometimes the solution is in putting disparate pieces together.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
The Lab has encouraged me to develop my technical skills to solve problems that extend beyond mere technical issues in collaboration with people around the world. Los Alamos National Lab has proven to be a place where my work makes the world a better place, while having a great time doing it.

Karen Gerwin

Karen Gerwin

Manager of Labor Relations

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
Managing Labor Relations is challenging, interesting, and varied and I am always learning.

I get to spend my days working with wonderful colleagues solving problems and finding solutions to issues ranging from workplace concerns, to labor grievances, to jurisdictional disputes, all while ensuring compliance with our collective bargaining agreements, Laboratory policies and procedures, state law, and federal law (such as the National Labor Relations Act).

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
Get into the field of Human Resources and take any opportunity to expand your skill set, whether that be through education, training, job assignments or volunteer work. Know that there is nothing static about the world of Labor Relations. Doing this work means maneuvering and being comfortable in a nuanced and gray environment. Be flexible, adaptable and resourceful. Active listening, critical thinking and creative problem solving will be your greatest assets.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
Working at the Lab, I have the exceptional opportunity to support the Laboratory’s important mission by solving problems and contributing to operational success while working with bright, dedicated, talented people who care about what they do.

Vivien Zapf

Vivien Zapf

Experimental Physicist

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
I enjoy learning about the mind-bending and counterintuitive behaviors of quantum magnets.

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
It’s exciting to explore the unexplored, extend our knowledge, and solve the puzzle that new experiments present to us.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
At the Lab, we have access to people with a wide variety of expertise and facilities, such as the 100 Tesla magnet, that are not available anywhere else in the world.

Nancy Jo Nicholas

Nancy Jo Nicholas

Senior Manager, Principal Associate Director for Global Security

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
I’ve always been passionate about our national security mission. Understanding the impacts of the work that Los Alamos has done for our nation over the course of the last 75 years inspires me to help lead the men and women of our Laboratory to accomplish what they are passionate about each day.

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
Find true passion in what you do. At Los Alamos, we have amazing opportunities to work with top-notch people to make the world a safer place. I am grateful to everyone who encouraged and helped me to succeed and I am excited any time I have an opportunity to encourage and help other women.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
I work at Los Alamos National Laboratory because this laboratory provides a unique environment where multidisciplinary capabilities and some of the best minds in the world can be applied to our nation’s and the world’s most difficult challenges.

Nicole Marie Lloyd Ronning

Nicole Lloyd-Ronning

Astrophysicist

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
I get to study the physics behind the violent deaths of very massive stars, which turn out to be the most energetic explosions in the universe!

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
Talk to lots of people (there is so much going on at the Lab) and find a group of people you genuinely enjoy working with.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
The work being done at Los Alamos National Lab spans a huge spectrum of interesting scientific problems and how they relate to the real world. It’s exciting to work at a place where such a diverse range of scientific topics are being worked on.

Unica Viramontes

Unica Viramontes

Security Division Leader

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
National security threats are ever evolving and every day there are new security challenges. I get to research the latest technology in defense systems and tactics and develop ways to sustain a robust physical security infrastructure and safeguards that protect the assets entrusted to the Laboratory.

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
Never lose your confidence. Believe in yourself and get your ideas out there.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
I believe in the mission of Los Alamos National Laboratory and its role in the protection of our great nation. I have the privilege of ensuring the safeguards and security of our nation’s greatest assets and I can smile every day knowing that my work at this Laboratory helps to ensure my children have a safe and secure future.

Amy Wong

Amy Wong

Program Manager in Chemistry Division, Plutonium Strategy Infrastructure

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
I represent the technical aspect of this multi-billion dollar project. I work with a very large multidisciplinary project team, subject matter experts and management around the laboratory, as well as NNSA customers.

It is very exciting to support the building of modern laboratory facilities and to attract the next generation of chemists and material scientists in support of national security missions.

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
I was fortunate to have many opportunities throughout my career. You are the only one who can turn the opportunities into fruitful outcomes and positive returns. It is not others’ fault if you don’t put in the hard work and make the best of your situation.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
There is never a dull moment working at Los Alamos—lots of challenges and opportunities.

Carol Burns

Carol Burns

Deputy Principal Associate Director

Exciting/unique aspect to your work:
I get to see the amazing breadth of science and engineering across the laboratory, and work with the pipeline (student, postdoc) and enabling science investments. The enthusiasm and creativity of our staff is inspiring.

Thoughts for women aspiring to do the work you do:
Take the time in your career to enjoy new learning opportunities in science or in different jobs. This is a great place to broaden your horizons.

Why Los Alamos National Laboratory:
Working at a national lab is a great way to work at the cutting edge of science and engineering while serving compelling missions, and I got to return to my home town!

Making an Impact

Statistician,
Joanne Wendelberger

Materials Scientist,
Veronica Livescu

Project Manager,
Jenna Casias

Bolstering Pathways for Women in STEM

We understand the importance of supporting and encouraging young women who are aspiring STEM professionals. The Lab participates in programs that target young women at important stages of their academic careers.

Expanding Your Horizons

The Women of the Lab Program coaches aspiring female scientists in 5-8th grade through mentorship and career fair participation. Last year, 165 students participated and in 2018 we anticipate over 250 registrants.

Girls’ Summer Physics Camp

The Lab hosts a two-week summer camp focused on boosting young women’s understanding of physics. Last year, 20 students participated.

Girls in STEM

Girls in STEM is a 7-year longitudinal research study which aims to improve the attitude that many girls have towards STEM in hopes that they will pursue STEM study and seek employment at the Laboratory. Each girl is matched with a woman scientist from the Lab. Our mentor partners are Girls Inc. and Ghost Ranch Retreat Center.

Women Scientist Ambassadors

These trained scientists and engineers hold conversations with learners of all ages about science topics that they are passionate about. Currently, there are 10 female Scientist Ambassadors.

Are you interested in more information? Please contact our Community Partnerships Office.

Power in Numbers

We have made great strides in increasing the number of women in various positions throughout the Lab and know there is room for growth. Continued progress in the recruitment and retention of women at LANL is key to our success.

Types of Jobs
Percent Women
Senior Leadership
(Director/President, Deputy Director/Vice President, Associate Lab Director)
21.6%
Research/Technical Management (first-line and mid-level)
(Engineering Management, Research Management, Technical Management)
20.1%
Operations (or Research Support) Management
(Business Management, Computer Systems, Communications, ESHQ, Facilities Ops, HR, Legal, Tech Transfer, Strategic Plannings)
28.9%
Technical Research Staff
(Non-management: Researchers, Scientists, or Engineers)
21.9%
Operations Support Staff
36.3%
Post-Doctoral
25.8%
Graduate Student
33.9%
Undergraduate Student
48.1%
Totals
32.8%

*Workforce data as of July 1, 2018

Employee Resources

Women’s Employee Resource Group

The Los Alamos Women’s Employee Resource Group provides a forum for women employees and encourages women's contributions, professional development opportunities, and shared support across the Laboratory.

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Atomic Women Employee Resource Group

Atomic Women is an ERG that provides support and networking opportunities for women in STEM fields, to help them thrive, at work, at home, and in the community.

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Life at the Lab

Northern New Mexico and Laboratory employment provides individuals with a wide range of opportunities for work-life enjoyment. We encourage you to explore what Life at the Lab can offer.

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Privacy for Nursing Mothers

Mothers returning to work after having a child may struggle to reintegrate into the office environment, but now there is one less hurdle for lactating Laboratory employees. We have 15 privacy pods throughout the Lab complex.

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Inclusion & Diversity

We believe diversity fuels our innovative, agile and principled workforce. Our teams work in different capacities to promote inclusion at the Laboratory, so that employees thrive academically, professionally and personally.

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Ombuds

We understand that at times, individuals need an outlet where they can communicate concerns or issues in confidence. The Ombuds Office provides a safe place for individuals to engage in information and confidential conversations. The Ombuds Office serves anyone in the Lab workforce, including students and contractors.

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Résumé and Cover Letter Tips

Ensure a strong application package with a well-crafted resumé and cover letter.

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Future Female Leaders in Engineering

The Future Female Leaders in Engineering (FFLIE) Program inspires women to achieve their full potential as engineers and future leaders.

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Benefits

Learn about our different benefits Los Alamos offers employees with an engaging online benefit counselor, Alex. Our benefits packages are comprehensive and allow you to maintain a work life balance.

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