Two Laboratory employees who have devoted much of their free time to STEM education programs for students from underserved communities in Northern New Mexico have been named as the first winners of the Los Alamos Community Relations Medal.
Nicole Lloyd-Ronning and Mark Galassi were selected after a rigorous review process, and each receive the medal which recognizes active Laboratory employees or retirees who have made significant contributions to the Lab’s mission of Excellence in Community Relations. It honors community leadership and building partnerships within Northern New Mexico across the areas of STEM education, economic/workforce development, and philanthropic investment of time or resources.
“Through their education work with young people, Mark and Nicole exemplify dedication to helping our neighbors thrive and making a positive difference, which are high priorities for Los Alamos National Laboratory,” said Thom Mason, director of the Laboratory. “I congratulate them on receiving the medal and extend my thanks for their efforts.”
Over the past 15 years, Galassi has developed a unique pipeline that takes students from disadvantaged backgrounds from elementary school chess clubs through to college internships working with scientist mentors and help landing their first jobs in science.
In part through his nonprofit the Institute for Computing in Research, he has helped over 350 students across northern New Mexico, and students from the early years of his pipeline are now professors at major research universities and have founded successful companies in machine learning and cybersecurity.
Lloyd-Ronning has been a tireless champion for promoting science education in the region and beyond, developing and leading educational courses with a focus on underserved communities, particularly Native American pueblos and tribes.
Her work with STEMarts Lab in El Prado as a speaker, instructor and advisor for programs at middle and high schools bridges cultures through science and art, under a program created by Agnes Chavez. Independent of STEMarts Lab, Lloyd-Ronning has run programs for elementary and middle school students at Santa Clara Pueblo and McCurdy School in Española.
She also engages other leaders, educators and Lab employees to join her in connecting with under-represented populations.