Take a guided tour of the Laboratory’s operational history, 1945 to present

New book reveals how Operations supports the mission

December 12, 2022

The history of Los Alamos National Laboratory is rich and well-documented, with countless books, movies, photographs and news stories available worldwide. From the earliest days of the Manhattan Project, our direct role in developing the incredible science and technology that has shaped the nation’s nuclear legacy has been shared, touted and discussed in depth.

But that’s not the whole story.

A new tome, “How We Do Our Work is as Important as What We Do: A History of Los Alamos National Laboratory Operations,” focuses on the teams that have supported science and technology work at the Laboratory for the past 80 years.

The digital cover of the new book.

“This book focuses on the operations that enabled the mission of the Laboratory,” said Kelly Beierschmitt, deputy Laboratory director for Operations. “With our current mission, we’re looking at another big change in the Laboratory’s future. Our objective with this book is to create a collective memory that tells a story of who we are, where we come from and where we are headed.”

Something for everyone

Filled with historical photographs, drawings, diagrams and maps, the work features five chapters that walk the reader through the early days of launching the Laboratory, to our current national security mission, and everything in between. All of this is told with an eye on the crucial infrastructure, business systems, facilities and other behind-the-scenes operations that keep the Lab running smoothly.

A photo of Dorothy McKibbin opens Chapter 1 of the book.

Co-author Rekha Pillai, the director for Operations Strategy and Infrastructure, tackled the enormous task of researching and organizing data and information for the book by reaching out to Riz Ali, the director of the Lab’s National Security Research Center (NSRC).

“This book took us about 18 months to create, and we’ve already started on another one, which will cover the people and the programs,” said Pillai. She also noted the support she and co-authors Carrie Gregory, Weston Phippen and J.T. Stark received from the team at the NSRC, as well as numerous past and present Lab employees.

Photos of workers wearing personal protective equipment illustrate the Laboratory’s efforts to ensure worker health and safety in Chapter 3 of the new book.

In the book’s foreword, the NSRC director shares his enthusiasm for the project. “Woven together, the NSRC’s documents, data and photos could — for the first time ever — aggregate and share the important accomplishments of the Laboratory’s operations staff during the past 80 years, which is exactly what Dr. Pillai and Dr. Beierschmitt wanted to achieve. I wholeheartedly agreed, and the partnership was formed,” Ali said.

How do I get a copy?

Digital copies of the book are available on the LANL website.

A poster, too!

The executives who have had oversight of the Laboratory’s operations from 1945 until today are featured in this one-of-a-kind poster. Zoom in for a close-up view of the leaders who’ve helped make big things happen at Los Alamos National Lab.