Next-gen thought leaders take their learning to Washington

July 18, 2022

A cohort of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s next generation of innovative thought leaders recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for an immersive visit that included meeting with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby. Participants are part of the Laboratory’s MEDAL program (Mid-/Early-career Deter-detect-prevent Advanced Leadership), which exposes participants to the intersection of technology and policy as they relate to the Lab’s core missions of nuclear deterrence and countering global threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

The 10 participants and three organizers also met with an advisor to the Department of State at the White House, staffers of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the Capitol and the Department of Defense personnel at the Pentagon.

The MEDAL program was started by Los Alamos’ Weapons directorate and Global Security associate directorate to cultivate innovative thought leaders. So far, 34 staff members have completed the program.

“The MEDAL Program has been invaluable to our early- and mid-career staff members as it gives them a chance to explore the intersection of technology and policy at a very high level,” said co-organizer Chloe McMath, a technical program manager at the Lab.

The participants represent a diverse cross-section of technical staff with expertise in geophysics, statistics, physics, material science, chemistry, and nuclear, chemical, mechanical and explosives engineering.

“Getting to know the other MEDAL participants has broadened my understanding of LANL’s research scope and my network of contemporary LANL colleagues,” says Geophysics Deputy Group Leader Mike Cleveland, who notes that the visit to D.C. was also impactful. “Participating in MEDAL has been a very valuable experience for me in multiple ways.”

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2022 MEDAL Participants meeting with NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

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2022 MEDAL participants in front of the Capitol Building. From right to left: Andrea Albert, Angie Olson, Dustin Cummins, Adam Wachtor, Margie Root, Kim Kaufeld, Emily Casleton, Ben Morrow, Beningo Sandoval, Juan-Antonio Vigil, Liz Miller, and Mike Cleveland. (Nnot pictured: Chloe McMath)