2023 winners of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s medals demonstrate steadfast commitment

Awardees in Community Relations, Operations and Global Security recognized at a special ceremony on Oct. 28

November 14, 2023

The diverse group of 2023 winners of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s most prestigious medals in Community Relations, Operations and Global Security share one thing in common: their exceptional commitment.

“These medals are the Laboratory’s highest honor,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “They recognize each person’s dedication and contributions, and represent the broad scope of work done across the Laboratory. I commend the winners on their hard work and commitment to making the Lab and their communities a better place.”

Below are the winners, who were recognized during a special awards ceremony on Oct. 28.

Barbara Lynn and Ralph Martinez

Community Relations Medal

Barbara Lynn is known at the Lab, in Los Alamos and across New Mexico for her work building inclusive, supportive communities that are welcoming to everyone, and providing opportunities for rewarding careers for underrepresented groups, especially within STEM fields. 

“Barbara has represented the Laboratory as a place that listens, cares and takes action toward justice,” said Lab employee Nicole Lloyd-Ronning, who nominated Lynn for the medal. “Her warm, welcoming, candid but kind style is something truly special and unique to Barbara, and allowed for an unprecedented level of trust to be built between the Lab and our surrounding communities.”

At the Lab, Lynn is the co-chair of the African American Employee Resource Group, and she has engaged in valuable conversations with Los Alamos Public Schools and Los Alamos Police Department to create a better environment in the town and the region for people from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

She is also the chair of the American Physical Society’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Alliance Community Building committee and serves as a member of the New Mexico Governor’s Council for Racial Justice.

Having overcome his own struggles with addiction and homelessness several years ago, Ralph Martinez has been instrumental in establishing two much-needed nonprofit facilities in Española: a homeless shelter (Española Pathways Shelter) and a recovery housing unit (Pathways Village).

Martinez also has taken on a range of other leadership roles in the community, including president of the Española Community Matanza Executive Board, vice-president of the Veterans Day Event Committee, adviser on the Española Lowrider Museum Coalition and organizer of the Care Box initiative for children and seniors in need.

“There simply isn’t enough space to describe the magnitude of Ralph’s service,” said nominator and Lab employee Prabhu S. Khalsa. “He leads or is involved in nearly every community service project in and around Española and Rio Arriba County.”

Ricardo Martí-Arbona

Operations Excellence Medal

Ricardo Martí-Arbona is a research and development manager in the Chemistry division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but his contributions extend far beyond the walls of his lab.

Throughout his 15-year career at Los Alamos, Martí-Arbona has lent his operational acumen to numerous Laboratory groups, divisions and directorates, all in the name of safety, security, efficiency and mission delivery.

Martí-Arbona serves in several leadership roles, including deputy division leader (acting) for the Chemistry division, deputy group leader for Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies and the safety and process coordinator for the Materials Physics and Applications division, where he oversees work at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. He is also strongly committed to supporting the Lab’s initiative to reach net-zero carbon output and changing how the Lab operates to accomplish this goal.

Jen Martinez, the deputy division leader of the Material Physics and Applications division, summarized Martí-Arbona when she nominated him for the award, writing, “I want to state that LANL is very fortunate to have Ricardo Martí-Arbona as a skilled scientist who passionately cares about operational success.”

Juan Duque and Kevin Mitchell

Global Security Medal

Juan Duque and Kevin Mitchell received this year’s Global Security Medal for growing the Laboratory’s capabilities in remote sensing. 

“It is a great honor to award these two outstanding scientists this year’s Global Security Medal,” said Nancy Jo Nicholas, associate Laboratory director for Global Security. “The experimental and computational subject-matter expertise Juan and Kevin represent as a team enabled transformational contributions to the community. I look forward to many more accomplishments from this dynamic team.”    

Duque joined the Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher in 2009, becoming a permanent staff member in 2011. Since then, he has worked on multiple projects supporting Global Security program offices involving remote sensing. His technical responsibilities include remote sensing data collection, signature collection and validation, and instrumentation.

Duque currently serves as the Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy Remote Sensing team leader. The remote sensing team of scientists and technical personnel is committed to the discovery and remote detection of signatures of weapons of mass destruction and other activities of concern to national security.

Duque holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from Rice University and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from The City College of New York.

Mitchell joined the Laboratory in 2003 and has more than 20 years of remote sensing experience. Mitchell developed a team that was frequently and specifically sought for their abilities to deliver a complete research package including the identification of threats relevant to global security, algorithm development, and results analysis with confidence. 

Mitchell has led several teams to develop and transition cutting-edge science and technology. His current research interests are focused on the application of machine learning to remote sensing data.

Mitchell holds a doctorate in theoretical nuclear physics from Kent State University and a bachelor’s in physics and mathematics from Sam Houston State University.