FLC partners with Los Alamos National Laboratory to promote Indigenous women in physics – The Journal
Two students selected for an internship with nuclear and particle physicists
The Los Alamos National Laboratory has partnered with Fort Lewis College to offer an internship program for undergraduate Indigenous women interested in a career in physics.
âIndigenous women are the most under-represented group in physics graduation and careers, and we are in a region where the demographics are strongly Native American,â said Co-Principal Investigator Astrid Morreale , a physicist in the Nuclear and Particle Physics and Applications group at Los Alamos National Laboratory in a press release.
The new program aims to build a pool of undergraduate talent in the Four Corners to enroll them in graduate programs and possible careers in physics, including at national labs such as Los Alamos.
“It’s a bit of an inconsistency, where we’re doing high-level science and engineering here, but groups that are still under-represented aren’t coming to us or we aren’t bringing them in,” Morreale said. âThis program represents an effort to turn the tide. “
Two FLC students were selected to be the first participants in the program:
- Julie Nelson, a major in engineering and mathematics with a major in physics, and a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.
- Ariello Platero, also a graduate in engineering and mathematics with a major in physics, and a member of the Navajo Nation.
âThis internship and the research I have the privilege to participate in will be the first steps I will take in pursuing a career in physics,â said Nelson. âObtaining knowledge no longer seems out of reach because of this opportunity. I am delighted to gain hands-on experience at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and explore the research side of academia while collaborating with scientists and mentors on the contributions of nuclear and particle physics that can benefit the humanity.
Students will be supervised throughout the year by laboratory physicists while attending the FLC. The program includes a 10-week internship in Los Alamos and a two-week visit to CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research.
âAs a Navajo woman in the STEM field, I am very excited to work with the Los Alamos team as it gives me the opportunity to contribute and help pave the way for new and exciting discoveries in physics, âsaid Platero. âI look forward to continuing on this path to higher education and representing my tribe and showing the younger generation that we can do great things if we apply for these opportunities and work. “
Students in the program will also be able to participate in the American Indian Resource Group which promotes access to Native American resources and a sense of community and inclusion while learning high energy nuclear physics in the laboratory.
Nelson and Platero will work alongside Morreale and Co-Principal Investigator Cesar Luiz da Silva, Staff Scientist and member of the Nuclear and Particle Physics and Applications group.
While the program aims to help Indigenous women advance in physics, Morreale points out that the laboratory and the field of physics have much to gain by strengthening the participation of under-represented groups.
âWe don’t see this program as a lab that just helps students,â she said. âWe need them. They would help us if they came here. We want to have different ideas and points of view in our discipline. We try to help our field by bringing in new talents and perspectives.
The program began on November 15 and funding has been provided by the US Department of Energy for the next two years.
Nelson and Platero will conduct research on gluon saturation, seeking to discover a new state of matter in which gluons are densely packed and give rise to properties similar to ordinary glass. Gluons are fundamental particles that stick all visible matter together and can be studied with detectors built at Los Alamos and then deployed at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.