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Trailblazer

By Nancy Salem

Photography By Randy Montoya

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Sandia physicist Christine Coverdale is first woman to win 28-year-old IEEE award

Sandia physicist is first woman to win 28-year-old IEEE award
Christine Coverdale honored by IEEE for contributions to plasma science.
Sandia plasma physicist Christine Coverdale became the first woman to win the IEEE Plasma Science and Applications Committee Award in its 28-year history. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of plasma science through research, teaching, and professional service to the scientific community.

Christine (5957) says she is grateful for the recognition from her peers.

“This award means a lot to me,” she says. “I’ve been lucky to have had many opportunities at Sandia to lead interesting and challenging projects, be mentored by highly capable people, and ultimately give back and mentor students and newer staff members.”

Christine joined Sandia in 1997 and in 2011 was named a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff. She has been involved in a broad range of experiments at the Saturn and Z pulsed power facilities centered around nuclear weapons certification and other national security projects. She most recently worked on radiation detection systems and diagnostics to assess warm and hard X-rays from Z-pinch plasmas.

Christine has a doctorate in plasma physics from the University of California, Davis, has authored or co-authored more than 120 papers, and regularly presents at conferences. She served three terms on the Executive Committee of the IEEE Plasma Science and Applications Committee and was technical program chair for the IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2015. She also served a four-year term on the IEEE Nuclear Plasma Sciences Society Administrative Committee.

Christine was on the Executive Committee of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Plasma Physics and is senior editor for High Energy Density Physics for IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. She is a Fellow of both the IEEE and APS.

A mother of three, Christine has worked with the leadership of IEEE and APS to include more women in technical programs and award nominations, and has promoted work-life balance by helping develop a child-care grant program for the IEEE Nuclear Plasma Sciences Society. “I worked with bosses and teams who were willing to be flexible,” she says. “It’s a good thing to balance family and work. I’ve tried to impress upon my kids to choose career paths that allow you do to many things in life.”