Naval Academy midshipman gains national security insights with Laboratory internship

Summer intern Adam Ibrahim learns about connection between science and application in the field

September 22, 2022

A midshipman studying political science at the U.S. Naval Academy, Adam Ibrahim spent this summer as an intern at Los Alamos National Laboratory through the Service Academies & ROTC Research Associates internship program.

Assigned to the National Security and International Studies office, his time at the Lab has not only given him one-on-one research experience with mentors, but has also helped him contextualize his future career goals.

Finding meaning

Ibrahim was deeply impacted by the realization that when he was only one month old, his family was just five miles from ground zero of the attacks on 9/11. Encouraged by his mother to bring meaning and purpose to his life's work, he decided to join the Navy.

“I felt that it was necessary to do my part in keeping the United States, its people and its interests safe,” Ibrahim said. “I wanted the opportunity to help people, and I saw the chance to lead sailors in combat environments as that opportunity.”

From the Naval Academy to the Laboratory

While at the Naval Academy, Ibrahim was introduced to the SARRA program by one of the Lab's recruitment representatives at an informational session. The Lab representative spoke about the opportunity to “help scientists and engineers conduct cutting-edge research and development at the forefront of national security,” and, as Ibrahim recalled, explained that the Laboratory also held opportunities for students not majoring in STEM fields. With that reassurance, Ibrahim applied to the program the next day.

According to mentor Mike Port, Ibrahim's application stood out from the rest. “We knew he had the academic prowess, but it was the breadth of his additional life experiences that we knew would prove salient as we engaged him in strategic and integrated deterrence discussions.”

Some of the SARRA program interns at the Lab this summer. Top (left to right): Meaghan Cyr, Patrick McElligot and Nathan Grund. Bottom (left to right): Annelies Bosley, Adam Ibrahim and Caden Dosier.

Real-world experience

As an intern at the Lab, Ibrahim toured various facilities, engaged and networked with leading scientists and experts, and worked with staff and active-duty military officers on effective methods for countering modern-day threats. He also worked to improved integration efforts between the Laboratory and the Department of Defense by analyzing current national security policy and its effectiveness, including the newly released 2022 Nuclear Posture Review.

Ibrahim noted that everyone he met at the Lab not only described their projects and connected their work to application in the field, but also encouraged him to stay in touch and reach out with any questions he may have in the future.

“My internship experience has been fascinating and exciting every single day,” Ibrahim said. “My curiosity has no limits at the Lab, and my mentors helped me to find avenues to expand my knowledge. Moreover, I have been able to appreciate more of the hard work the Department of Energy does to support the Department of Defense's ability to effectively carry out its mission.”

Ibrahim plans to commission as a submarine warfare officer in May 2023, and he said his experience this summer has helped him understand how submarine service remains critical to national security.