3 Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists elected 2022 American Physical Society Fellows

Selection recognizes important contributions to physics research as well as education and outreach

October 26, 2022


Three Los Alamos scientists have been elected fellows by the American Physical Society. The new APS fellows are Mary Hockaday, division leader for Nuclear Engineering and Nonproliferation; Nicole Lloyd-Ronning, astrophysicist in the Computational Physics and Methods group; and Rolando Somma, formerly with the Theoretical Division.

“We congratulate our technical staff members on this important recognition,” said John Sarrao, the deputy Laboratory director for Science, Technology & Engineering. “This honor reflects the high regard for their work among their peers within the physics community. And given the collaborative nature of the Laboratory research enterprise, we can celebrate their individual recognition while also understanding the teamwork that is the bedrock for such success.”

The APS fellowship program recognizes society members who have contributed to physics advances through original research and publication or who have applied physics to science and technology in significant, innovative ways. Significant contributions to the teaching of physics or through society service offer an additional basis for fellowship recognition.

Meet the fellows

Mary Hockaday was named fellow “for essential contributions to national security science and international scientific collaboration, leadership in fostering dialogue among diverse technical and policy communities, and promotion of equity and inclusion, especially for women in physics.”

Hockaday has led the Laboratory’s Nuclear Engineering and Nonproliferation Division since 2018. The division develops nuclear safeguards concepts and instruments used to monitor and measure nuclear materials, operates the nation’s only capability for nuclear criticality experiments and develops unique nuclear reactor concepts. Hockaday joined Los Alamos in 1986 as a staff member in the Fast Transient Plasma group, fielding and developing X-ray diagnostics for underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site (now the Nevada National Security Site).

Nicole Lloyd-Ronning was named fellow “for the development and work on a broad set of outreach programs introducing STEM science to students from elementary to undergraduate schools and tireless efforts to affect institutional change, working toward a more inclusive, diverse and equitable STEM work environment.”

Lloyd-Ronning’s research focuses on the physics behind the deaths of very massive stars and the black hole-accretion disks they create. She works on all aspects of these systems and also studies how they fit into our broader understanding of star formation and the universe’s cosmological evolution. In addition to teaching physics and astronomy at the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos, Lloyd-Ronning has led outreach programs throughout Northern New Mexico and collaborates on STEM initiatives in the region and around the world.

Rolando Somma was selected APS fellow in the Division of Quantum Information “for outstanding theoretical contributions to quantum computing, in particular the development of quantum algorithms for quantum simulation.”      

A technical staff member in the Physics of Condensed Matter and Complex Systems group (T-4) until joining Google as a research scientist this fall, Somma’s research at the Laboratory focused on quantum information theory, quantum computing, many body physics and beyond. Somma applied that expertise to the challenges of building reliable, large-scale, error-tolerant quantum computers capable of solving useful problems. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals on the development of theoretical models for quantum computing, developing new and fast algorithms for quantum computers that can solve problems that would be otherwise intractable.